In last week’s Fame or Shame we looked at Joey Barton, both his behaviour on the pitch and the comments he made on Twitter after he was sent off. Barton has now been banned for 12 matches by the FA and fined £75,000. As it turns out, this week’s Fame or Shame is something of a sporting sequel.
On Wednesday, cricketer Kevin Pietersen was fined an undisclosed amount by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). This punishment was not, as in Barton’s case, for violent conduct but just two comments Pietersen made on his Twitter account. The most recent one was during last weekend’s Lords test: “Can somebody PLEASE tell me how Nick Knight has worked his way into the commentary box for Home Tests?? RIDICULOUS!!” Fairly tame, you might think – but the sport’s governing body didn’t agree.
Within a few days the ECB had called in Pietersen for a meeting and released this statement: “The hearing considered recent comments made by Pietersen on Twitter to be prejudicial to the interests of the ECB and a breach of the England player conditions of employment in relation to clauses regarding public statements.” Apparently head coach Andy Flower has now also addressed the England team to stress the importance of social networking protocol and policy.
There’s no way of knowing how much the ECB fine was, but that’s really irrelevant, as they’ve made it very clear how they felt about the comments and Pietersen has been given a public telling off. Furthermore, the ECB acted very quickly to deal with the issue, they made their decision public and then took steps to try and ensure that the indiscretion won’t happen again.
Cricketers are of course capable of bad behaviour from time to time, but this is just more evidence to illustrate that the football industry could learn a lot from the example set by cricket.
Will Edwards is managing director of media training consultancy Bluewood Training