The Football Association have warned players that private messages on WhatsApp, retweets and ‘likes’ will be subject to new punishments for racist behaviour.
Under new sanctioning guidelines for next season, players face bans between six and 12 matches if found guilty of “almost all acts of discrimination”.
In their document outlining the policy, the FA state they can punish gestures, discriminatory words or acts but also “text messages, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook messenger, email or any other form of electronic communication irrespective of who they are sent to.”
Players are also told that retweeting or “liking” a discriminatory post on social media or forwarding a message falls under their policy.
“The fact that an incident of discrimination by an individual took place in private or outside of a standard football setting will now not be a barrier to the FA issuing proceedings and it has been agreed by football’s stakeholders that such measures are appropriate,” read an FA statement.
The FA have also insisted they will take action against clubs in the case of discriminatory chanting from supporters, which could include stadiums being closed.
They recommend putting together actions plans with clubs after first offences, then further incidents “will be treated with the utmost seriousness” and could result in either full or partial stadium closures.
Financial penalties will also be considered, in a range up to £300,000 for Premier League clubs.
“No two cases are ever the same but our new charging policies and sanctioning guidelines provide clear frameworks for the circumstances in which we will act and set out suggested penalties to accurately reflect the severity of each incident,” said Polly Handford, the FA’s director of legal and governance.
“By publishing these policies and guidelines in full, we hope that participants, supporters and the general public will have greater awareness and understanding of our approach and any decisions next season.”