Twitter is a relatively new concept in the grand scheme of social networking, with people from all over the world sharing their thoughts and feelings throughout the day with only those who care enough to follow them. However, as with all social media sites, ‘tweeting’ can be not only negative, but disastrous in maintaining a professional stance in the sport. Everyone is quick to prove their hatred of opposing players, whether from a rival club, through jealousy or through general dislike of a character.
Questions therefore must be raised about the general effect Twitter can have, as being booed by fans in a game is one thing, yet personal messages from one fan to or about a player is another. Yet is this just the risk that players take to connect with the fans and show their mortality? Or should posting on Twitter come with a censoring function for players to ensure they maintain their professional credibility day in day out.
‘Following’ Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney or Tom Cleverley can leave any Manchester United fan beaming from ear to ear that they get an insight into the general day to day life of a professional footballer. In terms of promoting a footballer’s reputation and general idolism, Twitter can be perfect provided it is used correctly, allowing the player to be a voice for the club, promoting not only personal appearances, but overall club reputation as well. This gives these footballers a chance to give something back to the United fans that have tried so hard to support them week in week out. They have a chance to see what Rio is doing on a Sunday afternoon, or see what car Wayne is to buy next, meaning their lives are no longer a mystery, allowing fans to connect more with these players rather than them just being moving ‘ants’ on a pitch.
Unfortunately a footballer will lose as many friends as they make. Expressing thoughts of a certain player and/or team can have detrimental effects on that player’s popularity. An England and Real Madrid fan may be happy to support the likes of Wayne Rooney on Twitter initially; however a bad word against his club team would leave Rooney on the black list for life. Recently Mr. Wayne Rooney himself has been publicised for taunting certain ‘blue moon’ Ivorian players from the comfort of his own armchair with tweets surrounding the humiliation of the Toure Brothers in the Africa Cup of Nations angering Manchester City fans.
Further to this, branding Real Madrid’s Pepe an ‘idiot’ for an act of aggression in the Spanish Copa Del Rey in January, it appears that sometimes releasing thoughts and feelings to the world can have consequences, with Real Madrid player Guti arguably justifiably calling Rooney a ‘hypocrite’ and leaving him on the naughty list in Madrid.
Next we come to a player famous for his moustache, tough tackles and ‘bad boy’ general ‘I don’t care what you think’ persona. Joey Barton is possibly the most well known user of Twitter within football, but not necessarily for the right reasons. His past protests against the FA for trying to enforce censorship on his tweets, his undignified disagreement with former QPR manager Neil Warnock and of course his well publicised spat with Wolves player Karl Henry, which lead for weeks of on-field and off-field back and forth, all are arguably not the correct use of this social networking site. Put it down to friendly rivalry? That is down to the parties involved to decide. However good for the overall image and enjoyment of the game? No.