Mark Dolan: Haven’t the FA got better things to do than investigate the teenage tweets of a soccer star?

They shouldn’t be wasting time trawling through the social media history of a defender.

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A talented young footballer is being investigated by the Football Association for a tweet he sent when he was 14 years old.

Middlesbrough defender Marc Bola, has been charged with 'aggravated' misconduct for comments he made on social media nine years ago.

The 23-year-old left-back is alleged by the FA to have posted 'a reference to sexual orientation' in 2012, when he was 14.

A few things here.

Haven’t the FA got better things to do than investigate the teenage tweets of a soccer star?

Surely they should be focused on what they do best - getting youngsters playing football, making facilities available in deprived communities and investing smartly in the football infrastructure so that the beautiful game is available to all.

And roll out a set of policies that will eventually see England win the Euros or even the World Cup?

They shouldn’t be wasting time trawling through the social media history of a defender. It’s indefensible.

Now what this young man tweeted was doubtless pretty offensive and I'm sure he regrets it. But it was almost a decade ago. He was 14 years of age. When you are 14 years of age, it's your job to say and do stupid things. It's your job to make mistakes. It's your job to be a prize numpty. Because it's only when reflecting on those mistakes, that you learn, develop, grow and become a better person.

Peoples’ history on social media should never be hanging over them like the sword of Damocles.

A novelist, a comedian or a songwriter might have created a piece of work which 10, 15 or 20 years ago was perfect acceptable and is now wide of the mark, due to changing attitudes.

Should they now be punished in some way? Of course not. You can't backdate today's moral and social values. An offensive joke, an offensive song or an offensive book now, might have been absolutely fine twenty years ago. Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, John Cleese and Ricky Gervais have all said that they couldn't now make comedy, that they made back in the day.

I've got skin in that game.

I used to present a hidden camera comedy series called Balls of Steel.

The outrageous pranks played on that show would never be allowed now. More’s the pity. It was watched and loved by millions. Should the comedians involved in that show now be investigated for comedy made fifteen years ago that wasn't just acceptable, but enthusiastically watched?

Kevin Hart the wonderful comedian performed a comedy routine years ago about how awkward he would be, if he found out his son was gay. This was a very clever and satirical piece of comedy, in which he was lampooning his own outdated values, when it came to same-sex relationships. But this didn't wash with a committee at the Academy Awards who parted company with him as host of the Oscars that year.

Unless a crime has been committed, I really don't think any of this historical stuff should cancel a career or destroy someone's livelihood. Especially not if they were 14 when they did it.

What does a 14-year-old know about the world? When I was 14, I was an expert in sleeping all day long, getting out of doing homework, watching too much telly and picking my nose.

And it's not just unfair, but profoundly worrying to think that this current generation of youngsters, who are of course all online, could see their lives ruined as a result of what they currently do on Instagram, TikTok or Twitter.

There's only one crime that's been committed in this story and it's one against common sense.

This crazy kangaroo court can hop right off. This sort of digital McCarthyism is counter-productive and potentially very damaging for those involved.

This nonsense is a serious own goal from the football authorities, and should be shown the red card.