The South West Football League’s jurisdiction was this week dragged from the field and into cyberspace when a player was suspended over a comment he made on Facebook.
The league became the latest Bunbury organisation to be embroiled in an online controversy when South Bunbury vice captain Xavier Green copped a one-match ban.
At a special meeting on Tuesday night it was revealed Mr Green, 29, used the website to criticise an umpire earlier this month.
The comment was the catalyst for a brief string of similar posts.
The decision, which is believedto be a first for WA football, has reignited the debate about the dangers of expressing opinions online and has forced the SWFL to hastily draught a social media policy.
Last month the South Western Times reported that students in the region had used the US-based Rate My Teacher website to publicly attack their educators.
Mr Green — who has played for the Tigers since 2002 and has never been reported — admitted to being shocked and confused by the penalty and described the incident as a ‘‘one off’’.
‘‘My comments incited other more offensive comments and I think that’s what they (the SWFL) were upset by,’’ he said.
‘‘It was just my opinion. I guess we’re not allowed to have those if they are against other people.’’
While SWFL executives did not have the power to suspend Mr Green, they urged South Bunbury to impose the sanction.
SWFL president Kevin Lynn said people needed to be aware of the impact of social media and said developing a code of behaviour for players and officials was a priority.
Mr Lynn also admitted the world has changed in his 19 years as SWFL president.
‘‘We would hope through education and through setting some standards that players and officials would recognise the potential dangers of this,’’ he said.
‘‘But at the end of the day there has got to be some consequences for people who impinge upon people’s reputations.’’
Ironically, South Bunbury posted a warning on their official Twitter account afterthe decision warning ofthe dangers, which read: ‘‘To all South Bunbury Players. While I am as shocked as anyone about what happen (sic) with @xaviergreen12. Please think before tweeting.’’
The WA Country Football League does not have an official policy on social media.