After a number of innocents during last season and this off-season the EIHL has decided to implement a new policy on social media.
According to the EIHL ‘The policy has been written to help all users connect better with their audience, while understanding the dangers social media can bring and the responsibilities they have when posting.’
In practice there will be blackout imposed on EIHL players, officials, team staff and referees from 2 hours before face off to 1 hour afterwards. That blackout does not include official team accounts or the EIHL official facebook and twitter accounts. Should anyone break the blackout there will be an investigation and disciplinary proceedings. However the EIHL have not announced what punishments would be handed down.
Some fans will also be left feeling that the EIHL has not gone far enough. The press statement did not make it clear if actions outside of the blackout would also face consequence but Sheffield Steelers owner Tony Smith speaking on behalf of the league said “Social media is playing a more important role in our lives and it is vital that everyone connected with the Elite League understands they are responsible for what is written on their accounts.
“We do not wish for players, staff and officials to stop using social media, but we want to make clear what is and what is not acceptable.” Hinting that perhaps actions outside of the blackout could be part of the policy.
What he and EIHL did not say though was what was not considered acceptable.
It is though a positive move by the EIHL who have moved to quash a growing trend amongst EIHL players using Twitter to provoke a reaction from fans. It was a trend started by Adam Keefe’s comments regarding officiating last season but has taken on a new element this summer with Cardiff Devils new signing Devin Didiomete calling Coventry Blaze fans ‘Mutants’. Didiomete has also had several spats with other players and a Coventry Blaze fan.
It is a bold move as there is a fine line between banter and insults especially in 140 characters if EIHL are able to decide what that line is but the EIHL can only do so much. Whilst the league may be brought into disrepute by some comments it is the clubs who are much more affected by their players actions. That is why the clubs now need to follow the leagues example and set rules and consequences their player’s actions and ultimately it is the clubs who have the power over the players.