Scout Sacked By Manchester United Following Facebook Controversy

Club Alerted To Offensive Messages On Social Media

15.01.2015

Manchester United have confirmed they have ended their work with Denmark-based scout Torben Aakjaer, after serious concerns were raised regarding offensive messages posted on Facebook.
 
The Premier League club were alerted to posts made on a Facebook account attributed to the scout, who has worked with United since 2011, by The Guardian newspaper.
 
According to the newspaper, an internal investigation led by chief executive Ed Woodward was carried out by the club with a subsequent statement confirming that the club’s association with Aakjaer had been “terminated”.
 
The statement added: “Manchester United is an inclusive organisation and will not tolerate this sort of behaviour.”
 
The incident is the latest in a string of social media-related issues related to football which have come to the media’s attention in recent months.
 
One of the most notable saw Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli given a one-match ban and a £25,000 fine for posting a controversial image on Instagram featuring Nintendo’s Super Mario character.

Expert Opinion
This is yet another worrying case which demonstrates the very serious issues which can arise on social media for football clubs and employers in any industry or sector.

"It is now undoubtedly a requisite for employers to have guidance and policies in place on the issue of social media, outlining clearly what activity on such electronic communications channels will or will not be tolerated.

"Key issues such a policy would cover off would include full information on how seriously such abuse of platforms will be treated and the full consequences which can be expected. It should also emphasise that such guidance also applies to accounts operated for personal use, as ultimately posts could create problems within a workforce or even lead to a reputational risk for the employer in general.

"The implementation of a comprehensive policy will also importantly ensure that any complaints or issues which arise are handled in a clear and consistent manner. This is particularly vital as employers could face legal action if fail to demonstrate this.

"Social media is undoubtedly part of modern life, so it is important that employers do not bury their heads in the sand when it comes to the risks that offensive or misleading posts could have on their operations."
Fergal Dowling, Partner