By Laurie Fitzgerald
When it comes to a form of communication that celebrities and sportsmen and women use to interact with their fans, then Twitter has become the number one method for talking to their followers.
Twitter has become a common use by many footballers that build up a community of their own supporters and let them know what’s on their mind, and what they are feeling at any moment in the day.
However, there have been many instances over the past year or so, not only in football but in other sports, that make you wonder whether it is of any benefit for people within sport to use the social networking site.
Take Marvin Morgan for instance. The 27 year-old striker had carved out a career in non-league football before making it into the Football League with Aldershot Town in 2008. So how do you go and endear yourself to the fans following a disappointing defeat to Hereford Town? If you’re Morgan, something like this:
“Like to thank the fans who booed me off the pitch. Where’s that going to get you! I hope you all die.”
Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. Morgan wished the fans that pay his wages every week that he hoped they died when they had the audacity to voice their feelings after paying their hard-earned money to see their team lose. Morgan now finds himself on loan at Dagenham and Redbridge.
Morgan’s example of bad ‘tweeting’ may be the most extreme, but he is not the only one to put his foot in it via Twitter.
Who can forget Darren Bent’s tantrum towards Daniel Levy as his protracted move to Sunderland continued to drag on? Everyone could understand Bent’s frustration, but probably best to have said it to his agent, or to Levy himself. As well as saving him from insulting Hull and Stoke fans in the process.
The most recent of course is Ryan Babel’s picture upload to his Twitter page of referee Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United shirt, thanks to the wonders of Photoshop (well, one would hope so anyway) following Webb’s controversial decisions during Liverpool’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford.
Now some would say that this was merely an attempt at humour, and this is a stance that the PFA took today in defence of the 24 year-old. But there is being funny and then there is questioning the integrity of a referee, and while Webb’s performance on Sunday was open to debate, Babel’s picture was no laughing matter – even if his photoshopping skills were to be admired.
Footballers aren’t the only ones to be twits on Twitter. Last year, cricketer Kevin Pietersen had to hold a press conference to apologise for his expletive tweeting after criticising England’s national selector Geoff Miller for dropping him from an upcoming one-day series against Pakistan. The 30 year-old was hit with a fine, but his tweets have been more positive recently following England’s Ashes success.
This isn’t to say that any of these sportsmen are horrible people, far from it. Pietersen for example deleted his post almost instantly. The problem is that in this day and age, one very public mistake like these ones are not going to be missed by the media.
I understand that there is a positive use in Twitter for footballers. It’s a very good way for modern day footballers to build a better relationship with the fans, especially when the public view them as living in a completely different world to the rest of society.
But players aren’t going to be able to always refrain from voicing their opinions in the heat of the moment when they can do so at the touch of a button. It seems that the more popular Twitter gets within the sporting community, the more common these twitter-gates will occur.
As well as death threats. Well, maybe not.
So what do you think? Do you like the idea of Twitter being used footballers and fellow sportsmen? Or do you think it causes more harm than good? Let us know