The NFL season begins with a showdown with the Arizona Cardinals and the Washington Redskins.
But don’t get too excited, because that game will come with a significant dose of controversy.
In the early going, the NFL has gone so far as to issue a warning for the public to be careful of the game and not fall for the fake “fans” that have been popping up all over social media.
In a memo released Monday, NFL Senior VP of Communications and Public Affairs Brian McCarthy said that the NFL will suspend the league for up to two games if any of the following occurs:• Fans are caught watching the game on a fake “fan page” or other social media account.• Fans of the opponent make up fake accounts or posts that are misleading, defamatory, or racially inflammatory.• The NFL Players Association does not permit fans to join the game with fake “team names.”
The memo also calls on fans to be cautious in how they respond to the games that are not playing on Sunday, March 6.
It’s not all about the football.
McCarthy said the league also will be working on creating a “preventive action plan” that includes the use of social media to ensure fans are informed of the situation and that the “safety and well-being of fans and guests is paramount.”
The NFL said in the memo that fans can also report fan misconduct, but McCarthy said it’s important for fans to also report any fans that have made offensive remarks or posts.
“Our goal is to make sure that the league and fans are safe, and this is why we have begun work on a ‘preventative action plan,'” McCarthy wrote.
“Our primary concern is ensuring that all fans are protected from inappropriate behavior and that all of the safety and well of fans are maintained.”
The league said that “many fans” have posted inappropriate comments on social media during the past few weeks, and that some fans have been involved in racist, offensive, or other behaviors.
The league has also begun to create a system to report any posts and images that violate social media policies.
McCarthy also said that fans will be able to contact the league if they see any fans making any of these inappropriate comments or posts, and the league is working with local police to “respond to any reports.”
Fans who believe they have been impacted by these posts or posts should contact the police, McCarthy wrote, noting that some “have even been violent.”
The teams are scheduled to play Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
ET in Arizona.