Should Twitter be Allowed for Footballers?
Footballers. On the pitch, some are regarded as geniuses. Off the pitch however, they aren't often seen as the most intelligent of people. It is no surprise then, that a lot of footballers create controversy on a seemingly daily basis on Twitter. Take Joey Barton (@Joey7Barton) for example, on loan at Marseille from QPR, his 2.1 million followers on Twitter are regularly exposed to the innermost thoughts and ideas of the English midfielder. The most recent incident involving Barton on Twitter was just before the first leg of a UEFA Champions League tie between PSG and Barcelona on Tuesday 2nd April. Barton publicly described PSG defender Thiago Silva as an “overweight ladyboy”.
While we're on the topic of Joey Barton, his parent club QPR were relegated from the Barclays Premier League on Sunday 28th April, which spouted a tirade of abuse towards both the ownership and management structure of the club.
Another fine example of footballers getting into trouble or causing a backlash through tweeting is Newcastle United's Nile Ranger (@NilePowerRanger). He posted the below picture onto his account, spelling out his name in £20 notes.
They're not all bad though! Back in March, Ipswich's Tyrone Mings (@TyroneMings1) made a truly unique gesture. A fan tweeted him to wish him good luck in an upcoming match, also saying he couldn't attend, as he was “#skint”. Mings then asked the fan if he was able to get to Portman Road for the game, saying that he had left 2 tickets in the fans name, adding “Shouldn't miss a game cos u can't afford it #ITFC”. This soon went viral on twitter, with many applauding the gesture of the Ipswich defender.
Footballers, like many sportsmen and women, live their lives very much in the public eye, and as such, many are seen as role models to young children. When I was growing up, albeit not such a long time ago, the only way to connect with your favourite footballer was to either write a letter, or turn up at the training ground and hope for an autograph. These days however, fans are able to send 140 characters or less to their idols and hope for a response.
On the flip side of this, we must also remember that these guys are also just employees of their respective clubs, that just so happen to earn a lot of money doing what they do, and have a large public following.
Unlike a certain North Korean dictator, I'm a firm believer in free speech, and that everyone should be able to say what they want, regardless of the amount of social following they have. However, there are times where it may pay off for footballers to just 'think before they tweet' to avoid any potential gaffes in the future.