WSIL promise punishments if recent ‘improper or unpleasant’ social media communications continue

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The West Sussex Invitation League have sent out a warning email to players and clubs after what they are calling are recent ‘improper or unpleasant’ communications on social media.

In an email to all registered players, league chairman Gary Stanley has warned the executive committee can impose monetary forfeit, points deductions, player suspensions or expulsion of clubs from the league on those not heeding their warning.

They will be imposed if there is a breach of section 1.3.6 of the WSICL Code of Conduct and Behaviour, which states, ‘clubs must ensure that captains, players, club officials etc refrain from comments that result in media material that brings the league into disrepute.’

The specifics for the warning are not disclosed in the email, but they refer to ‘several discussions’ on Twitter and goes on to cite incidents have occurred of negative references toward the league, how it is run and its administration, belittling or mocking the ability of other teams or players, baiting other players or teams using derogatory or foul language, responding to such baiting using derogatory or foul language and personal attacks.

The letter from the executive committee reads: “Although social media is not exactly a new phenomenon, we have never previously had to deal with a situation where the league or its clubs and players have been directly referenced in an improper or unpleasant fashion. Depressingly, that has now changed.

“The last thing we want to do is to censor the use of light hearted banter, either on or off the pitch, however lines have been crossed here.”

The statement, which is signed off by chairman Stanley, goes on to make it clear that further breaches of those rules will be dealt with without further warning and encourage others to report such behaviour.

It says: “This is the first time we have had to become involved in this area and because of that, you can take this e-mail as a friendly warning. The next discussion we have with any club or player about this will be neither of those things.

“There will not be a second warning. The executive committee has both the power and the responsibility to deal with any further instances of this kind as we see fit – be it monetary forfeit, points deductions, player suspensions or expulsion of clubs from the league.

“We will not tolerate this in the WSICL, so if you are doing it – either from a club page or a personal account - Stop. Now.

“We are aware that social media is considered by many to be without restriction as to what can be said and off limits to censure. At the end of the day, neither ourselves nor anyone else can stop you from posting or tweeting whatever diatribe you like.

“What we can do is to ensure that those who choose to bring the league into disrepute are no longer associated with it. No matter whether you do this on Twitter, in a letter to the press, or by e-mail – the effect is the same and the consequences likewise.”