English FA didn’t like Rio Ferdinand’s tweet and gave him a stupid punishment

No doubt after consulting Urban Dictionary and being suitably appalled, the English Football Association has fined Rio Ferdinand 25,000 pounds ($40,000) and banned him for three games for dissing a random’s mom on Twitter.

Last month, in response to a message that tagged him and read “Maybe QPR will sign a good CB they need one,” the QPR defender wrote back: “get ya mum in, plays the field well son! #sket.”

The definition of “sket” is “a promiscuous girl or woman,” reports the family-friendly BBC.

The 35-year-old former England captain is a member of an FA commission set up last year to try and make the Three Lions less hapless, so the independent panel who meted out the verdict presumably felt it needed to make an example of a role model with 5.9 million followers who broke the cardinal business rule: Don’t insult the customers. He’s also got to attend an FA education program.

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Twitter’s getting to be an expensive habit for Ferdinand, who was fined 45,000 pounds ($72,000) in 2012 for making a racially-charged comment.

In the past, the FA have fined players rather than banned them for Twitter misdeeds. The three-match ban is the same length of suspension Chelsea’s Didier Drogba received in 2008 for throwing a coin back into a section of Burnley fans. That was violent conduct; this was playground-level taunting.

While it’s sometimes unfair and simplistic to play the comparison game, Repeat offenders CSKA Moscow only got a UEFA order to play two Champions League home games behind closed doors and a 100,000 euro fine for the racist chanting of their fans.

As QPR ponder an appeal, here’s manager Harry Redknapp with some cutting-edge technological analysis. Sorry, I mean old-school willful ignorance. “I don’t know what Twitter is. I don’t want to know, to be honest. It doesn’t interest me one little bit. If I understood it, I might be able to talk about it,” he told reporters on Thursday.

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Draconian punishments will lead to increased self-censorship and the sort of bland, boring tweets that undermine the medium’s potential for giving fans a deeper understanding of what players are really like. In many cases already, Twitter feeds are an extension not of the player’s personality but of his team’s PR department.

Of course, some players’ comments are offensive enough to make you wish their feeds were controlled by a PR lackey.

Without denying the stupidity of Ferdinand’s tweet, it’s not hard to see why players crack sometimes. Social media now gives fans the opportunity to directly insult players every minute of every day, rather than only during games. And when members of the public hurl invective, there’s very rarely any comeback.