Home Tweet Costs Soccer Player Nearly $16,000 in Fines

Tweet Costs Soccer Player Nearly $16,000 in Fines

“Free speech” is one of those things that can cost you. For professional soccer player Ryan Babel, that price is nearly $16,000. Babel was recently fined by the soccer league’s regulatory committee over a tweet, reports the BBC, and warned not to do it again.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of someone being fined over the contents of their tweets and certainly not the harshest punishment, but it’s a reminder that 140 characters can get you in some legitimate trouble.

“Social network sites like Twitter must be regarded as being in the public domain,” Football Association chairman Roger Burden told the BBC. “All participants need to be aware, in the same way as if making a public statement in other forms of media, that any comments would be transmitted to a wider audience. It is their responsibility to ensure only appropriate comments are used.”

Babel’s tweet called one referee’s call into question and linked to a doctored picture showing the referee in their opponent’s uniform. “And they call him one of the best referees. That’s a joke,” Babel tweeted.

When Twitter CEO Dick Costolo spoke recently at the Consumer Electronics Show, one innovative use of Twitter he cited was how professional athletes are taking their trash talking to the microblogging service. It appears that this sort of trash talking will come with a heavy fine for soccer players.

An English man similarly learned the impact of a tweet last May when he broadcast his frustrations over a canceled flight out on Twitter, saying “Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!” He lost his job, ended up with a criminal record and was fined $1,500.

Of course, none of this compares to the November story of a Chinese woman who was sent to a “re-education camp” for tweeting an inflammatory message. (Read Curt Hopkin’s story, “The Shortest Route to Prison? 140 Characters” for the full outrage and list of other imprisoned Twitterati.)

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