FA charge Dunne for the wrong reasons

© Edmund Boyden

GIVEN that FA policy descends directly from FIFA, it is perhaps no surprise that English football's governing body has inherited some nasty traits.

Paranoia. Self-interest. Arrogance. To name a few.

Millwall defender Alan Dunne was this week accused of 'improper conduct' for comments made on Twitter. I say 'made', when what I really mean is 'made by someone else'. But the FA's misinformed understanding of Twitter and its functionality is something I will return to later.

Regardless of the technicalities of social-networking, the FA appear to have intervened in this particular instance for all the wrong reasons. Not because Dunne brought the game into disrepute – that would have been understandable – but because he brought the FA's authority, credibility and, crucially, their reputation into question.

I follow footballers on Twitter who are so self-centered and illiterate that their idiocy and poor grammar alone brings the game into disrepute. Last night I was reading a 'banterous' exchange between Manchester City defenders Micah Richards and Reece Wabara, about which one of them women find more attractive, and it made me wonder just where the FA's priorities lie.

They claim it's about Respect. Setting an example. Players must conduct themselves in the public arena in a fashion that younger generations can look up to – otherwise, they can be punished.

But of course it's not about that. It's about self-preservation and saving face. Any view that is anti-FA is against the rules. No matter how valid the opinion, or in most cases how poor the referee's performance was, a critical comment becomes an illegal one.

Now recall, if you can, April 2011, when Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was handed a two-game ban for swearing into a television camera. Bringing the game into disrepute? Probably. Conduct unbefitting an England international? Almost certainly.

And yet, Crystal Palace defender Nathaniel Clyne has seemingly gone unpunished for tweeting "f**k off Millwall" earlier this month. The medium – television or social network – is irrelevant. The FA has deemed the public use of foul language by a player is unacceptable, and they cannot be allowed to ignore their own precedent.

If the principle is the same, why punish Rooney and then not Clyne? The answer is simple: Rooney is a representative of the FA, a huge source of sponsorship income and an icon of English football. The FA must be seen to protect their own interests. Clyne, a no-mark Championship defender, will barely register on their radar. Let him say what he wants – as long as it's nothing to do with the FA.

An expletive tweet sets a far worse example than anything Dunne is accused of implying.

The defender's charge implies that his conduct was irresponsible. Perhaps if the FA had a better understanding of Twitter, they would understand that in re-tweeting a comment, he is distancing, rather than implicating, himself in an anti-FA debate. A re-tweet is not an endorsement. Dunne was simply sharing a supporter's view with his followers.

It is that point around which Dunne will surely base his defence. Unfortunately, his case is likely to fall upon deaf ears. Deaf ears, and the FA's blindness to what is right and what is wrong.



2 thoughts on “FA charge Dunne for the wrong reasons

  • January 30, 2012 at 13:28

    I'm disappointed that the club reacted with a blanket ban, thus depriving fans of an important avenue of interaction with the players. I would have preferred a ban on tweets during or after the match as is the case in cricket. This would hopefully avoid the knee jerk, heat of the moment comments that get players into trouble whilst maintaining the flow of information (and shameless self promotion) during the week.

    Sadly the FA will never evolve to understand the technology of the day, and cases will never be treated equally, but that is a massive issue best left alone or until we are really in the brown stuff again.

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