#Football


If your reading this article it’s very likely you are using the internet, and I am assuming that you know what I am referring to by adding the hash tag at the beginning of the title. However, if you don’t, I am referring to the social media website, Twitter, which, like Facebook, seems to be getting it’s cyber head in on television, radio and pretty much every where else you look. Which, of course, means it is getting involved with football, but – Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Joey Barton - Serial tweeter and Morrissey wannabe

Already there are a good number of Premier League footballers on Twitter, including Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and QPR skipper Joey Barton (He will be “mentioned” later), giving us a glimpse into the lives of the multi-millionaires who entertain us on a weekly basis via kicking around a ball.

At the same time, many football pundits and journalists have also joined Twitter, using their peep hole in to the lives of their subjects and turning it in to stories when the days at the office are on the slow, and then advertising their discoveries to their followers.

One thing I find funny about Twitter is how it makes the footballers, the “robots” who run around a pitch void of personality, appear more human, while simultaneously, making the “human beings” who write about them look like story writing robots who would probably make a article out of the colour of a kettle Luis Suarez has just bought if nothing else is on.

Many football clubs up and down the leagues in several countries have taken advantage of the new trend in Twitter and have created accounts on the site. It is a useful tool, being used to draw attention to the latest news and interviews being published on the club’s official website, and also team news before a game. It is also useful for minute by minute commentary of a game which isn’t being shown on TV if you have no other way of keeping up to date, kind of like a Gillette Soccer Saturday, but without Jeff Stelling and Kammy (although they do have accounts on the site).

It is unfortunate in some cases, but journalists have also recognised the potential of Twitter can have as they will be able to air their views and thoughts on footballing matters to however many thousand people have followed them, which can be a bad thing. Britain, despite the latest scandals from The News of the World and the lies printed nearly 23 years ago about Hillsborough, hang on nearly every word the media say, so when the news surfaced that Luis Suarez had been accused of racially abusing Patrice Evra, Suarez was instantly universally condemned by everyone in the media, and thus, accused guilty by everyone not associated with Liverpool, and everyone who tried to defend his name being accused of part of this Scouse Klux Klan. However, the John Terry case is being taken in a “innocent before prove guilty” mentality by all and after being stripped of England captaincy, is being view sympathetically by some people, which begs to question; Who are the real racists?

This brings me on to my next point nicely – racial abuse. The FA have always been proud that they have stamped out racism in the English game – looking down on countries like Russia and Greece who notoriously still have a problem with it. However, very recently racism has shown its ugly face again. Twitter has been used as a way of football fans sending racist and abusive messages to footballers and pundits. The most notable is the case of Stan Collymore. The former striker and Talksport presenter who was asked on the site if he had ever been called “Stan Cooneymore”. The abuser was later arrested by police after Collymore alerted them.

That isn’t the only case though unfortunately. There have been cases of racism aimed at QPR new boy, Djibril Ciise, Spurs striker Louis Saha and Newcastle brothers, Shola and Sammy Ameobi, all via Twitter bar Shola, who was abused on Facebook.

Something arguably more alarming than a couple of racist idiots though, is the executive director of European football’s anti-discrimination board FARE, Piara Powar, tweeting racist abuse to a Liverpool fan. An Asian Liverpool fan asked Powar why he had not commented on the fact that a Manchester United fan had been arrested for racist chanting. Powar replied calling him “a coconut”. A “coconut”, being someone from an ethnic background, be it African or Asian, having a white person opinion.

Thankfully, not everyone is abusive to one another on there and it isn’t an evil system designed for the spread of hatred. The best aspect of Twitter and football is the ability to follow your favourite players and, as I said before, bring the human element back when you read of how they have done everyday things such as they were shopping in Asda or were just playing on the Xbox all day, or had a slight altercation in a taxi in America, yeah, I’m looking at you Ryan Babel!

"It sure does Ryan"

Not only can you legally stalk them, but Twitter gives you a platform to interact with them as if your best buddies, and if you’re lucky, they interact back. (But please, don’t tell them you did something mundane and then ask for a RT, that’s just annoying).

Twitter has also helped aspiring football journalists improve their skills as writers and gain recognition for their work, this website you’re on now, being a great example of this. Getting an article retweeted by a football player or another journalist on Twitter would not only help get more views but also boost the confidence of the writer to go on and take journalism in further education, university and maybe beyond. More sports journalists would be great – as long as they weren’t clones of Oliver Holt or David Maddock that is…

The best use of Twitter I have seen, was when the e-petition for the full disclosure of the Hillsborough files was created. Thanks to continuous tweeting and retweeting, where Joey Barton deserves a lot of credit, the petition was given full publicity to millions of people and soon it reached the target 100,000 signatures for it to be taken to the House of Commons, which resulted in the promise of the Hillsborough files to be released. Would this have happened if it wasn’t for Twitter? It’s arguable, but all that really matters is it happened.

After weighing up both the pros and cons of Twitter and football combining worlds, you can’t help but feel that it is as useful as much as it is a massive pain in the arse. The current problems are fixable, and it is can be a useful tool for journalism and in general.

One last thing… Retweet?

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