In 1991, Crystal Palace chairman Ron Noades made a statement that rocked the football community. Noades was a much respected Chairman of a Football League club, but his comment was downright racist. Noades had said, “The black players at this club lend the side a lot of skill and flair, but you also need white players in there to balance things up and give the team some brains and some common sense.”
Noades survived this scandalous comment and remained at Selhurst Park until 1998, before he moved to Brentford where he became, Chairman, and believe-it-or-not even first team coach; He steered Brentford to promotion and won a Divisional Manager of the Year award.
There was no social media back then. Had there have been Noades would no doubt have been hounded out of the game.
Since the dawn of social media, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like the world we live in has changed dramatically. Sportsmen and women have to be very careful what pictures the publish or send to friends, or even if they have pictures posted of them drinking alcohol. Many have fallen foul of a rash comment made in the heat of the moment.
The truth is if you wish to be a professional athlete or administrator, or hold any position in society you must be careful what you put out in the world of social media. Instead of think before you speak, think before you tweet, or post!
There is an understandable backlash in Western Australian football about comments made on Facebook, a very public forum, by a president of a state league club.
Calls have been made for the FFA or local body Football West to take action and ban the said individual. Yet neither honestly has any power to do so. The FFA would be entering a hornets nest as their own National Club Identity Policy has been accused as racist and as we discussed would struggle to stand up in a court of law. (Football Cleansing – A Step Too Far).
What can Football West do? In the last eighteen months they tried to fine a club for bringing the game into disrepute, when a player from that club was involved in a brawl in a nightclub. This decision was quite rightly challenged and the ruling was Football West had overstepped its jurisdiction. So what action can they take against an individual who writes opinions that are his own on a social media site, and a thread that has nothing to do with football?
Ultimately it comes down to the club with whom he is connected. Do they feel that the comments have come back and hurt them? They also need to remember that the club concerned represents a region, and carries that region’s name. If the individual’s comments and views have been associated with their club and in their opinion caused a negative effect then they must take action. If people from that region, or the football community as a whole feel that the comments are inappropriate from one holding such a position, then they too have every right to air those views and make the club or the individual aware.
Is an apology acceptable? Should the individual concerned do the honourable thing and step down?
Whatever the outcome this situation should be a lesson to all who like to use social media or comment on public forums. Comments that may have gone away in Ron Noades day, are now there for posterity and can frequently come back to haunt you.