Soccerlens has been accused of inviting lawsuits several times in the past – the West Ham affair (arguably an over-the-top response by Hammers but in any event a plausible case for libel), a few humourous pieces calling players gay or drug-addicts, and then there’s always the banter and commentary that goes too far in the comments.
On one hand, it’s hard to understand how a football fan – unreasonable, emotional and biased by definition – can be expected to moderate their own comments in order to avoid legal proceedings (surely comments made by various fans and indeed fansites about Chelsea and their owner constitute libel). It’s a game where prejudice rules the roost (unfortunately) and when it comes to the Internet, being anally biased is the best way to build a fan club (whether deliberate or not).
Mind you, not all fans bind hate with their bias – Ed‘s the perfect example of how you can be biased in a positive way.
On the other hand, accusing a club (and its owners) of “greed, selfishness, untrustworthiness and dishonest behaviour” and to do that on a public website (especially if such comments are not moderated) is problematic to say the least. Unless such allegations are based on fact, you’re opening yourself up to legal proceedings and as this case shows, it’s starting to happen on the Internet as well.
The problem is that of how our bias enables us to say certain things and perform certain actions that could harm others, either by spreading false beliefs or worse, inciting action that inflicts real physical damage.
So, in a nutshell, it’s quite possible for us footy fans to get sued, and not just for copyright violations.
What do you guys think? Should there be an element of self-policing for fans online, or is it “anything-goes” in cyberspace?
I tried really hard to find an image suitable to ‘libel’, but I couldn’t, hence the Gemma Atkinson pic at the top. It’s my first irrelevant celeb pic in a long time, have some mercy 🙂