A Blog by Jonathan Low


Aug 14, 2016

English Soccer Team Threatens Fan's Season Ticket Over Social Media Comments

The response of established institutions to social media commentary can often seem ham-handed and shrill compared to the ostensible threat.

But the issues are serious. Harsh commentary based on one experience can threaten a business' existence. Racist and violent language - especially in the context of European soccer - must, unfortunately, be taken seriously given the historical record of extreme fan behavior resulting in injury and death.

The challenge is how to effectively manage the interplay between the passions inspired and the impact they may have. JL

Joseph Cox reports in Motherboard:

“If someone's using sexist abuse or threatening language, evidence should have been attached and a ban would be fair enough. But to haul someone in to sign a contract over ‘not particularly constructive’ comments? Wow.”
You can add another body to the list of organisations trying to police people's behaviour on social media: Charlton Athletic Football Club.
On Friday, a letter to a fan from the London-based League One team circulated on social media. The letter tells the fan that he or she will only be given their purchased season ticket after signing an agreement not to publish inflammatory posts about the club on social media. The name and address of the fan have been redacted.
Charlton Athletic confirmed to Motherboard in an email that the letter was authentic.
“As a club we have listened to and acted upon some of the concerns raised by the supporters during the closed season,” the letter, signed by the club's Duty Safety Officer Cliff Eager and dated August 2, reads. Recently, fans of the club have been upset with decisions and comments by the club’s chief executive.
“We have identified however that certain comments placed on social media websites by yourself have been not particularly constructive. Whilst we recognize that everyone is entitled to their own personal opinion it is not helpful when inflammatory comments are posted on such websites.”
Eager asks the fan to arrange a meeting with him.
“I need to advise you that the granting of your season ticket will be 'conditional' and subject to you signing an 'Agreed Behavioral Contract' (ABC) which will request that you refrain from posting derogatory or inflammatory comments regarding the Club or people representing the club in the future on any social media websites, or carrying out any other form of behavior that could be deemed to be of an anti-social nature,” the letter concludes.
The letter has met with an angry response from fans on social media.
In an email to Motherboard, a spokesperson for Charlton Athletic wrote, “The club can confirm that they sent a letter to one supporter relating to their continued inappropriate behaviour towards members of staff on Charlton’s official social media accounts and foul and abusive language captured on stadium cameras.”
No letters were sent to other fans, the spokesperson said.
“The individual met with Head of Matchday Operations Mick Everett, who has worked for the club for more than 20 years, and recently appointed Duty Safety Officer, Cliff Eager, who joined the club in June after 35 years of experience as Chief Inspector within the Police,” they added.“During the meeting, the level of abuse, which the individual has since voluntarily removed from their Twitter account, was discussed.”
The fan was given their season ticket, and in the end was not asked to sign the agreement.
Reams of disgruntled members of the Charlton Life forum, which discusses all sorts of things about the city, vented their disgust regarding the letter.
“Move the club to North Korea and be done with it,” a user called ValleyGray wrote on Friday morning.
“The letter itself sets a precedent. The idea of holding someone’s ticket to ransom unless they agree to never be negative about the club on the interwebs is ridiculous,” added another.
“I've got a season ticket and I'd be more than happy to meet Mr Eager to discuss my issues with the club. This club really is a joke,” Bolderhumphreyreid said.
InspectorSands summed up the general response. “If someone's using sexist abuse or threatening language, evidence should have been attached and a ban would be fair enough. But to haul someone in to sign a contract over ‘not particularly constructive’ comments? Wow,” they wrote.


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