The FA: barking up the wrong tree

Four words. Well, not exactly. Sort of. One letter, two words, one letter and three asterisks.

Put in to a sentence that reads "f off you c***". Pretty harmless on the face of it. Nobody died. It wasn’t racist, and nobody was really that bothered. Not even the person it was directed it.

The person it was directed at, by the way, was a gentleman who goes by the name of Stuart Hardy – a Tottenham supporting Twitter user that decided to bait Carlton Cole by saying ‘when your own team mates don’t kick the ball out when you’re laying injured for 2 mins, you think it’s time to call it a day?’.

A pretty harmless remark in itself. Our own fans have said a lot worse. A bit of banter. I thought it was a pretty straight-talking comeback by Carlton myself. Not in the league of James Blunt Twitter comebacks, but a good comeback nonetheless. Unfortunately, the rulers of our national game didn’t think so, and Carlton is now £20,000 lighter and The FA £20,000 richer.

Twenty. Thousand. Pounds. I will say it again. This time very slowly. Twenty. Thousand. Pounds.

How on earth can that remark be worth £20,000? Seriously? Has our society become so precious that Carlton’s remarks (Which I hasten to add didn’t even contain a swear word spelt out) that they deserve a fine of such magnitude?

Let’s put it in to perspective here. That’s three and a half grand less than FIFA fined the Serbian FA for their fans racist chanting. Thirteen grand less than Ravel Morrison was fined for a homophobic tweet. Going by The FA standards, it’s far more acceptable for a footballer to call someone a "faggot" over social media than it is to call them one letter and three asterisks.

Which brings me on to footballers and social media in general. What is acceptable?

It could be argued that footballers should stay clear of Twitter and such like. But then, there is another argument that footballers should use social media as it’s another way they can interact with their fans. The problem with it of course, is that it also gives the morons in society a platform to abuse and spout their hate to players and other people in the game that frequent these platforms.

Of course, I’m not advocating that footballers should go and abuse the Twitter trolls, though to be fair, it would probably be most entertaining if a few let rip now and again. But maybe the powers at be should understand that footballers are human, and sometimes they will react before they think. Footballers are not generally renowned for being the sharpest tools in the box.

The £20,000 fine dished out to Carlton Cole for his outburst is completely disproportionate for the so-called crime committed. Perhaps a little self-control from Carlton would have been appropriate, but I can understand why he did it.

The way football is being sanitised, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more and more players getting fined for their comments and their Twitter accounts being deleted and therefore increasing the gulf between players and fans even further.

Of course, all of us in life have to watch what we say, but I would wager that every single one of us has said something we have instantly regretted. The difference being, a draconian governing body isn’t watching our every word and ready and waiting to pounce and fill their coffers every time we slip up.

Well I have a little suggestion for The FA, if they are feeling a little bit skint and want to dish out fines to players. How about they fine players for cheating? You know, those dirty little herberts that dive about like they are in swan lake, conning officials every time someone brushes against them?

How about fining the fraudsters that stay down and make out they are injured only to make a miracle recovery as soon as the whistle blows? Or fine the aggressive behaviour when players surround the ref when a decision doesn’t go their way? That’s more of a blight on our game than a few choice words on Twitter.

Hang your heads in shame those who dished out this fine to Carlton Cole. If you want to make an example of role-model players, fine the cheats that take to the football field every weekend and gain an advantage by being dishonest. If dishonesty is acceptable behaviour from a role model (that’s the basis of fining Carlton isn’t it FA?) then we may as well give up now.

I’d rather my children learn a few naughty words than be taught it’s acceptable to be a cheat.

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