Ashley Cole’s furious tweet in the aftermath of the publication of John Terry’s FA hearing details became the latest in a long line of twitter misdemeanours made by footballers. Not only could it serve to prevent Cole from becoming only the sixth Englishman to reach 100 caps, but it could prove to be the end of the footballer twitter craze.
Only last week, Reading midfielder Danny Guthrie was forced to apologise after he tweeted his disappointment at not being included in the team to face his former side Newcastle. Several managers have forced twitter bans on their players but has the time now come for all footballers to close their accounts and hide away from the twittersphere?
Yes, it is an attraction for fans to be able to follow their favourite players and interact with them, but is it a good thing that players are only a few clicks away from being able to air their views, especially immediately after a game when emotions could be running high?
Some will point out that banning players from tweeting is an infringement of their right to free speech, but before the twitter craze very few footballers took to airing their views, even though other social media platforms were available.
A twitter ban could be a way to protect footballers from the torrents of abuse that they receive. As you may recall Everton midfielder Darren Gibson only lasted two hours on the site before abusive messages from fans led to him deleting his account. And with the tribal following that football clubs receive it is not hard to imagine the tweets that some fans will make to players of rival clubs or a player who has just scored a winner against them.
During the week a friend of mine who plays for a league club tweeted about the poor service he received in a restaurant only hours after his side had been beaten. Now, if I was a fan of that particular club and I followed this player, I would not be best pleased to see a post about the speed of his food arriving whilst I was still reeling about my side being beaten.
There will be those that argue that they receive abuse from the terraces during a game and that twitter is no different to that, but that abuse on the pitch is more often than not, rightly or wrongly directed at them because of what they do on that pitch, whereas on twitter the players are giving fans ammunition to have a pop at them about all aspects of their lives.
I spoke to another professional footballer friend about why he wasn’t on twitter and whether he had considered it, and his reply was “because it wasn’t worth the abuse”, this player is on facebook where he says, “I don’t get any trouble, I can post pictures of my family and what I’m up to and don’t have to worry, whereas I’d never be able to do that on twitter.”
And I think that this is an example of a sensible footballer, taking away that possibility for him to be abused or him to write something in the spur of the moment and regret it. I think that footballers need to be more aware of the problems that twitter can cause them.
I do enjoy following them, and more often than not they are causing no harm with their tweets but it is becoming a more regular occurrence it seems that someone is causing controversy on the site, and for what? An ego trip that shows that they’ve got the most followers.