By LEE HORTON
PSA bosses have warned their players: Say anything we don’t like and you’ll be in bother.
In an amazing iron-fist email sent to players today, PSA senior management have demanded that their members stop using social media to comment about topics they deem may bring the game into disrepute.
And they warn: disciplinary action will being taken against any player who breaks their strict set of rules.
The email, sent from the PSA tour director Cladia Schurmann and believed to have been signed off by PSA Chief Executive Officer Alex Gough, tells the players that they are bound by the PSA Social Media Code of conduct.
It is document designed to protect the squash brand gagging any player from criticising almost anything about the game. It does not ban players from Tweeting, but spells out a vast range of areas that they must not comment on.
Several players who contacted SquashMad.Com described it as almost Stalinist in its conception.
The email demanded that no person subject to the PSA Social Media Code of Conduct shall publish or cause to be published (by whatsoever medium); stating four strict rules.
- Criticism of the character of a tournament referee or official or criticism of the manner in which an official has handled a match in which the player has taken part, or any other game under the control of the PSA.
- Criticism of PSA World Tour events based on location, prize money, directors, staffing or any other element which can be interpreted as having a negative reputational impact on the prestige of the event in question.
- Discriminatory or prejudicial comments about any individual involved in the PSA World Tour, be it players, administrators, volunteers or staff, based on the grounds of age, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation or colour or any other comments which may be interpreted as bullying or victimising.
- Comments which can be interpreted as bringing the PSA World Tour, an individual event or the sport of squash, into disrepute.
The warning comes only days after PSA player Ben Coleman (below) was told to apologise on social media site Twitter for comments he made opposing equal prize money for men and women.
Coleman sparked lively Twitter debate, none of it offensive, sexist or bullying yet was ‘advised’ by a senior England squash official to retract his honestly held beliefs. He then re-Tweeted a statement drafted by the official. SquashMad.com attacked the decision to censor him as an unmerited gagging order stifling free speech.
The PSA email made it clear that their comment ban was aimed at activity on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn.
In the week before World No.4 Nick Matthews releases his much anticipated book “Sweating Blood: My Life In Squash” , the PSA edict makes no reference to any sanctions in place to discipline authors of newspaper articles or books.
In an email to SquashMad, Gough gave his reasons for contacting players signed to the PSA. “Our aim is to educate players on the dangers of social media mis-use, educating them on best practice and setting standards for players to follow which is the case in almost every professional sport at present.”