Club fined for tweets as EIHL make social media stand

Sheffield Steelers ice hockey club have been fined following a series of tweets from the club’s official Twitter account.

The tweets, which have since been removed, were made following a game with arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers in October.

In a statement issued at the time, the league said: The Steelers have been reminded of their responsibilities and the expected conduct of an Elite League team, players and it’s staff when using social media.”

It is the latest in several instances in the Elite Ice Hockey League, the top professional league in the UK, but the first handed down to a club itself.

A spokesman for the EIHL said: “The league takes social media very seriously and it issues social media guidelines to the clubs for them to distribute to their players.

“Fines are reinvested into the running of the league, including DOPS and league officials.”

Social media monitoring is now done by the league’s Department of Players Safety (DOPS). 

Under its FAQs listing on the league’s official website, under the question “Why is DOPS giving out social media fines”, it states:

“As the Elite League’s independent disciplinary body, the EIHL board felt it was sensible for DOPS to take charge of all social media fines and also media fines should players/coaches and staff chose to go outside media guidelines set by the league.

“This is monitored by the EIHL media department and thankfully there are thousands of pairs of eyes , who help monitor what is said and report any transgressions.”

DOPS is an independent body appointed by the league’s 10 teams to control its disciplinary process.

It recently had to stand up for itself in a social media storm regarding the suspension of Belfast Giants player, Darryl Lloyd.

Lloyd was given a one-match ban for slew footing, but five hours after the decision had been announced, the club revealed an alternative camera angle on social media, prompting a reaction from fans.

Having already made a decision, DOPS stuck to their guns, pointing to their own rules that are clearly stated regarding video evidence.

In a statement, they said: “This footage wasn’t submitted by the Giants as part of the incident review.

“All clubs in the Elite League signed up to the DOPS process, which has a built in amount of time for evidence to be presented for consideration, prior to any decision being made.

“For whatever reason, the video released on Wednesday evening was never sent to DOPS by Belfast. This is frustrating for all parties, not least the fans.

“The incident review system has strict deadlines for all parties and anything that arrives after the deadline will not be considered.

“With that in mind, the one-match suspension to Darryl Lloyd stands as per initial decision, which was made with the evidence provided by the clubs involved.

“DOPS would like to use this as a reminder to all clubs that if evidence is to be considered, it must be presented in the time between the player reviews being announced and decision being made.”

Unlike in football, where incidents are reviewed almost instantaneously during and after the game, ice hockey in this country largely relies on in-house club filming, often from a fixed camera.

The EIHL is perhaps now leading the way for minor sports in the UK in terms of how it deals with social media when it comes to its disciplinary process.

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