Belfast Telegraph

Social media a problem - Ayre

Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre has admitted players' use of social media "is a problem" in the wake of the controversy surrounding Reds striker Mario Balotelli.

The Italian was charged by the Football Association on Friday following allegedly racist and anti-Semitic comments on social media.

Balotelli reposted an image of computer game character Super Mario on Instagram earlier this week, which included the words ''jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew''.

He apologised for any offence caused, but is now set to face a ban, and Ayre told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme that it is something his club could do without.

"Given the choice we'd love to keep all our players away from social media because it really is a problem," he said.

"I can honestly say there isn't any more we could do as a club to try to educate our players around this, but it still rears its head at least once a season - probably at every club in some form or another."

Balotelli has been sidelined by a groin injury recently and Ayre added: "One of the problems that all footballers have had for many a year is that they have too much time to kill.

"In that downtime they seem to put these crazy sort of messages up. It is definitely an issue.

"I don't think we have got to the point where we would stop people doing it, but we certainly have a very stringent policy that all of our players sign. If they step out of line then we punish them."

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