Social media scandals in cricket usually involve a player saying something out of line. Recently, Indian cricketer Suresh Raina earned some negative attention for posting a message on Twitter critical of Pakistan and then blaming it on his nephew. Earlier this year, rifts in the England camp were deepened when Kevin Pietersen - a dressing room pariah at the time - accused team-mates of starting a Twitter account parodying him.
Now, the eyes of the cricket world have turned towards the United States as a lengthy battle continues on the United States of America Cricket Association's (USACA) Facebook page.
It all started when the USACA facebook page admin posted a link to an ESPNCricinfo piece by Peter Della Penna, a US-based freelance journalist, and accused him of possessing "unethical journalistic bias" for suggesting dysfunction within USACA's ranks. In the ensuing comment thread, the page admin has continued to dig deeper into the mire by attacking and insulting various commenters:
- "Unfortunatelly [sic] your obsession and lack of journalistic credentials do not support you [sic] overly obsessive cult like reporting on USA Cricket." - to cricket blogger David Mutton
- "Your style and service to USA Cricket has become obsloete [sic] and more damaging than anything. I look forward to your next boring and annoying blog berrating [sic] USA Cricket." - to ESPNCricinfo Executive Editor Martin Williamson
- "Introducing a sport like cricket with no structure or follow up is like you walking into a McDonld's [sic] and paying for your Supersized burgers and fries and leaving before the chef has time to serve you your dinner." - to CricketEurope writer Andrew Nixon
This is the tip of the iceberg. The page admin(s) have made over 50 comments at last count, many of them disparaging; in addition, many believe a commenter named Rozay Chardonnay - who has voiced consistent support for the page admin's views - is an alter ego of the page admin. As the comment directed at Nixon above indicates, nothing appears to be outside the limits of the page admin's ire. Personal attacks and blanket dismissal of any dissenting opinion are the order of the day. It's a social media manager's worst nightmare.
As if that weren't enough, Della Penna states in his article that the USACA Facebook admin is none other than Kenwyn Williams, the USACA Secretary. Williams has not confirmed this as yet but if true, it would elevate a spectacular social media debacle into the realms of grand organisational mismanagement.
That may or may not be the case, but as the comments on the Facebook thread continue to pile up, and as no apologies, retractions or clarifications for this behaviour by the USACA Facebook page admin are issued, one thing is for sure: Della Penna is right that there is dysfunction in the United States of America Cricket Association. This Facebook thread has the potential to derail future USACA requests for funding and support to the International Cricket Council (ICC), and has caused serious damage to USACA's image in the cricket world.
Normally, the cricket world would be glad to see cricket in America get some attention. Unfortunately, in this case, the USACA has drawn global attention for all the wrong reasons.
UPDATE 22 October 2012: After several more inflammatory postings, the USACA Facebook page has been taken down and Executive Secretary Kenwyn Williams suspended. Williams maintains a partly public Facebook presence here and screen grabs from the infamous USACA Facebook thread are available here.