In Depth

Huth Twitter charge: is the FA guilty of double standards?

Stoke defender Robert Huth accused of misconduct, but no action over 'inappropriate behaviour' of Ched Evans

A day after it was revealed that Stoke City were prepared to release out-of-favour defender Robert Huth, there was more bad news for the German as he was charged by the FA over a series of indecent interactions on Twitter.

The former Chelsea man was hauled up in January after he sent a number of tweets to an account that posts sexual images of people and asks other users to guess their gender. He soon removed the messages and wrote: "Clearly no offence was meant or directed to anyone but apologies if I've offended anyone."

However, Huth has now been charged by the FA with an "aggravated breach" of social media misconduct rules. He becomes the latest player "to fall foul of the FA's hawk-eyed social media mavens", according to Rory Smith of The Times, and the paper seems unimpressed by the FA's policy.

Huth follows in the footsteps of Rio Ferdinand, who was banned for three games for responding to insults on Twitter, and Mario Balotelli, who was handed a one-match ban for a misjudged post on Instagram, which was supposed to be anti-racist.

"The FA has faced mounting criticism in recent weeks and months for what seems to be a confused policy regarding offences committed away from the pitch," says Smith. "It has proved more than happy to intervene and police social media, for example, but does not get involved when players are accused or convicted of offences such as drink-driving."

He is not the only one bemused by the charge against Huth. The player's posts were "stupid and reprehensible" says Tony Evans, also of the Times, but he wonders if such behaviour is really the FA's business. The body, he claims, appears to have an increasingly "scattergun" approach to social media.

"It is the latest attempt by the ruling body to impose some sort of control on players in the wild world of social media," he states, but adds: "These tweets were clearly not football-related. So where does the FA stop monitoring the public behaviour of players?"

Why has the FA taken no action over Ched Evans, "who took inappropriate sexual behaviour to criminal levels", for example?

"The ruling body would be better served to restrict its disciplinary programmes to football-related events. There are enough ethical quandaries on the pitch without getting into moral questions in the outside world."

Smith reveals that the FA's explanation for its apparent "double standards" is that matters involving criminal or judicial action fall outside its remit.

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