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Notice from Essex FA

  • 05/01/14
  • By Essex FA
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Regarding use of Social Network Sites and Grow Game meeting!

It’s a growing phenomenon in modern communication, but we've reminded grassroots clubs that it’s not just famous players at the top end of the game who need to use social media such as Twitter and Facebook appropriately, with the number of charges in Essex creeping into double figures during 2013.

All participants are required to act in the sport’s best interests at all times and they should be aware that their postings on networking sites are likely to be subject to public and media scrutiny. The Football Association recognises the use of such websites can be positive, but they ask that caution is exercised with the content of postings.

All comments on these networking sites may be considered public, and anything deemed improper which brings the game into disrepute could lead to disciplinary action. It is the responsibility of all football to reduce and eradicate threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting behaviour, and the interactive environment is no different.

Essex County FA Press & Publicity Officer, Chris Evans, agrees that care is required. “Social networking is incredibly useful and absorbing, and there is a lot of good practise in Essex where clubs, individuals and groups have put it to effective use,” he said. “Much like in everyday life, it’s crucial that we all pay extra attention to what we say. It’s easy to be misinterpreted, especially when you may only have 140 characters to use.”

Comments about match officials which imply bias and/or attack officials’ integrity in an overly personal nature are considered improper, as are remarks which include a reference to a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability would be considered an aggravating factor, and could attract a higher disciplinary sanction.

In addition, ‘retweeting’ another person’s post may lead to action if the original comment was unsavoury and deleting or apologising publicly for an improper posting, whilst advisable, does not prevent disciplinary action being taken. An individual is strictly responsible for any posting on his or her account and participants should take every care to ensure that others do not access their login details, as this could reflect on the account holder.

In the last year in Essex, around ten charges have been raised for the inappropriate use of social networking. High profile cases have been raised by The FA, so people are aware of the potential consequences. Charges are raised as a ‘Breach of FA Rule E3 - Improper Conduct’ - in just the same way that they would be for dissent during a game.

Rule E3 states: “A participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute.” A participant is defined by The FA as “a competition, club, club official, player, match official, management committee member or member or employee of an affiliated club.”

As a result, if social networking content indicates offensive, insulting, abusive or threatening behaviour from one football participant to another, then the Essex County FA can take action. Charges which have been raised include threats to attempt to injure an opponent during a game, threats to attack someone as a result of game and general offensive comments directed towards opponents, either in a particular fixture or in a division.

Greg Hart, Governance Manager, has highlighted what somebody should do if they feel they have been the subject of inappropriate behaviour: “Whether it’s through social media, message boards, texts or written communications, then they should be making an official complaint to the parent County FA of the club which has instigated the inappropriate behaviour.”

“We’d request hard copies of the unsuitable actions - normally ‘screen shots’ - and also the URL relating to the behaviour. Then we’d investigate and then decide whether to raise charges or not. This would then go through the discipline process. If the club or individual disputes the charges and requests a personal hearing, the complainant would be invited to attend the commission as a witness for the Essex County FA.”

The FA have recognised the need for guidance on the topic and a document called ‘Tackling Social Media’ was published in 2012 following a noticeable increase in the volume of complaints and referrals received. A wealth of information and resources can be accessed for free as part of The FA’s ‘What’s Your Pitch’ microsite at

You can access ‘Tackling Social Media’ via the link below. The Essex County FA also has a Twitter feed at, where some of the best contributions from other grassroots accounts are retweeted. Additionally, there is a presence on Facebook at


Grow the Game ESSEX FA meeting
Dear Club Secretary,

Essex CFA is holding a Grow the Game funding workshop to assist clubs in making applications to the Football Foundation’s Grow the Game funding programme. This programme allows clubs to apply for £1500 of funding per new team that is developed to assist with costs such as:

· affiliation fees,

· league entry fees,

· training costs,

· referees’ fees,

· FA coaching courses

· Football strips (football strips is up to a maximum of £250 only for U15 teams and above).
The workshop is taking place on Tuesday 21st January at 7pm at the following venue:

Essex County Cricket Club,
Ford County Ground,
New Writtle Street,
Essex, CM2 0PG

The workshop will start at 7pm. Each club can send two club representatives to attend the workshop. If you would like to attend please email confirming the following:

Names of (up to) two representatives from the club -

Age group of new team -

Male / Female / Disability -

Please can you respond with the above information by Monday 20th January to confirm attendance. Clubs are strongly advised to attend the workshop and discuss the application with their FDO if they wish to make an application.

If you cant attend the workshop but would like to apply for ‘Grow the Game’ funding please contact me as soon as possible to discuss this. If you would like further information on the funding please do not hesitate to contact me (please note if you have received ‘Grow the Game’ funding in the past 4 years you are not eligible for this funding).

The workshop will provide further detail of the criteria for applications and represents a good opportunity for clubs to apply for some funding to assist with the development of new teams.


Ian Bent