Social media is a vital part of just about anyones life in 2016, but for a professional soccer player it is the easiest way to connect with fans without having to do the whole face-to-face meeting thing.
It also happens to be a hazard of the job if one isn’t doing it right. At least that seems to be the case according to a report in The Guardian in the U.K. — as they note plenty of top English Premier League (EPL) teams are monitoring the social media presence of potential transfer targets.
However, it isn’t the teams specifically that are doing the trolling. Instead, the report indicates that a private investigation and cybersecurity firm, Kroll, is doing the dirty work for many of those teams.
The firm is being hired to look at potential bigotry, hate speech and other illegal and offensive behaviors, following a spate of scandals involving recently signed players. The report indicates that the firm is hired to look for 1,000 trigger words throughout multiple social media platforms.
Per the report:
Ben Hamilton, a managing director at Kroll, said the list included racist terms; references to extremist beliefs and groups – such as suicide bombers and the National Front; indications of drug and alcohol misuse; comments about inappropriate sexual activity; and any indications of criminality.
Perhaps the most insane part of all of this is that the firm is most interested in religious terms — especially those that aren’t of the protestant nature.
“British examples might include the National Front, any anti-Jewish organisation, [the] English Defence League, different words that relate to fascism or suicide bombers, [or the terms] Muslim, Catholic, Republican, pikey, Gypsy.”
What isn’t made clear is if being one of those terms or being anti-Muslim or anti-Catholic are the issue at hand.
Things are so serious that the group has wound up seeking legal action to look in on private messaging apps like Snapchat or WhatsApp. Kroll also looks deeper than just a keyword search with the clubs permission, and it has ended with players not being signed by specific clubs or not making moves in general.
However, this move by clubs isn’t a new one. Instead, there have been plenty of examples of punishment for social media posts in the past.
One of the biggest examples came from former Chelsea player, Ashley Cole, who was fined £90,000 for a single Twitter hashtag that was against the FA in the John Terry racism scandal.
So, if you believe you have what it takes to a professional soccer player, just remember that potential clubs aren’t just looking at your skill on the field. They may just nix your move because of what you wrote that one day when you were frustrated, or add you because of your sunny disposition on those vital platforms.