A footballer in one of WA's top country leagues has copped a one-match suspension after criticising an umpire on Facebook in what could set a precedent over the use of social media.
The South West Football League asked South Bunbury Football Club to suspend vice-captain Xavier Green and make him apologise after he criticised an umpire's decision on Facebook after a loss to Donnybrook on Sunday, August 12.
But South Bunbury president Bevan Buswell said yesterday the issue made "a mountain out of a molehill" and he would have the ban clarified at a league council meeting.
Mr Buswell said Green questioned a 50m penalty during the game and again on Facebook.
"The league then called us in and said he had to apologise, which he did, and that he would have to accept a one-match suspension or go to the tribunal," he said.
Mr Buswell said he wanted to clarify the order, noting there did not appear to be any policy on social media within the country football league.
But league president Kevin Lynn said the matter went beyond Facebook.
He said it was against the rules to show dissent towards an umpire or bring the game into disrepute.
"He showed dissent and criticised the officiating umpire of the day after the game," he said.
"Let's take Facebook out of it and say he did show dissent and criticise the officiating umpire in the match he played in after the game.
"Any player who shows dissent towards an umpire or criticises the officiating umpire of the day, he breaks the rule of the game.
"In this case he chose Facebook as his medium, but if he had chosen the newspaper or radio, or wrote a poster, it would have had the same effect."
Mr Lynn said Green used Facebook to imply the umpire was incompetent.
The suspension is believed to be the first of its kind in WA football.
WAFL general manager Cameron Knapton said the State competition had a specific social media policy. "The policy rules out making criticism of umpires," he said.
"The WAFC and the WAFL are continuing to ensure that there are appropriate social media policies in place."