Players’ chief Gordon Taylor has described the Football Association as “very precious” for charging Liverpool winger Ryan Babel over Twitter posts.

Babel linked to a mocked-up picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt after the Reds lost 1-0 to United in the FA Cup on Sunday.

“Where’s our sense of humour gone in our game?” Taylor, Professional Footballers’ Association head, asked.

“He’s apologised, let’s move on,” he added.

Babel, who has been accused of improper conduct by the FA, subsequently removed the link and wrote an apology on Twitter.

The 24-year-old’s original comments followed Liverpool’s 1-0 third-round defeat at Old Trafford.

In addition to posting a link to the doctored picture of Webb, Babel wrote: “And they call him one of the best referees. That’s a joke.”

The Dutchman has more than 166,000 other Twitter users following his updates and his messages and the offending image was subsequently reproduced in the media.

Taylor believes the FA have been too heavy-handed in their reaction to Babel’s online criticisms.

“He’s apologised and has said he’s sorry, let’s move on,” Taylor added.

“I would think that Howard Webb is a big enough man, a big enough person and good enough referee to take it.

“To my mind, and to most footballers’ minds, it is the same sort of stuff that flies about every weekend via mobile phones, but they are obviously taking a stance on it. I thought a warning would have been sufficient.”

Babel, a Netherlands international, is believed to be the first player charged with improper conduct relating to a post on the social networking site.

“My apology if they take my posted picture seriously. This is just a emotional reaction after losing an important game. Sorry Howard Webb,” Babel wrote on Twitter by way of an apology.

He then joked about spending a spell in “Twitter jail” and his previously prolific posts stopped on Sunday evening.

By freelance writer Dan Leaton.

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