Ten Years Ago Ryan Babel Became The First Premier League Footballer Fined For A Tweet
Ten years ago today Ryan Babel found out how difficult it is to be a footballer on social media when the then Liverpool winger became the first Premier League player fined for Twitter use.
In January 2011, Babel was playing for Liverpool during the Reds' 1-0 loss to rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup third round.
In Kenny Dalglish's first game back in charge of the Anfield outfit, following Roy Hodgson's sacking, United went ahead through a Ryan Giggs penalty after just two minutes, while Steven Gerrard was sent off in the second half.
The decisions by referee Howard Webb led to criticism from Liverpool fans and Babel took to Twitter with a photoshopped picture of Webb in a United shirt, with the caption: "And they call him one of the best referees? That's a joke. SMH [shaking my head]."
Babel later posted two tweets for damage control, saying: "My apology if they take my posted pic seriously. This is just a emotional reaction after losing an important game," and "Sorry Howard Webb!" But it was too late.
The Dutchman was charged with improper conduct and was fined £10,000 for the Twitter post with regulatory commission chairman Roger Burden saying: "Social network sites, like Twitter, must be regarded as being in the public domain.
"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."
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The now 34-year-old Babel, who currently plays for Galatasaray, had previously been in trouble with his manager for tweeting about being dropped or a game against Stoke City "without explanation".
This Sunday, Liverpool and Man United meet in the Premier League with table-topping United hoping to extend their lead over Jurgen Klopp's team to six points. Liverpool would go top on goal difference with a win.
Champions Liverpool are struggling in 2021. Since December's 7-0 win over Crystal Palace, Klopp's side have taken two points from three games against West Brom, Newcastle and Southampton.
Meanwhile Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Man United have won their last three games to go top of the league before they head to Anfield for a hotly anticipated showdown.
Expect a controversial referee or VAR decision on Sunday, it's just unlikely any player will tweet about it, thanks to Babel.
All imagery: PA Images/Twitter
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