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Opinion: Social Media and Football

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In recent times, social media has become so big that there are over 500 million people who have Facebook and Twitter has an estimated 200 million users. The sheer amount of people who rely on these sites every day is quite clear. Twitter has a large amount of celebrity users who are “followed” by fans in order to see what they are doing. Sports stars are quite prominent on Twitter with footballers such as Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Savage and even Kenny Dalglish has become part of the Twitter revolution.

There have been instances where footballers have vented their fury after a game that has not gone their way. The first of any such instance was that of Ryan Babel, who was playing with Liverpool at the time, when they were defeated by rivals Manchester United. He posted a mock-up picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United jersey. Babel was fined £10,000 by the Football Association and later apologised.

This incident has more recently been followed up by Carlton Cole, who tweeted in a more humorous manner but the tweet, which was a dig at immigration, resulted in a £20,000 fine for improper conduct.

Its times like this that you wonder, are you allowed to speak your mind? It is understandable that a player will be unhappy if their team receives a bad decision from a referee and in a country of ‘free speech’ you would think that when talking in a personal capacity they would be allowed to speak their mind, this does happen, but when the ‘tweets’ become offensive it is acceptable for action to be taken.

It is not just professional’s who use social networking sites, many youth players also use the sites and a few have been caught out. Following the recent threats on Neil Lennon, Paul McBride and Trish Godman, it was seen that Berwick Rangers’ under 17s captain, Keiran Bowell, sent a message on Twitter that read, “Wish that parcel bomb f****** killed neil lennon, the little c***.” Bowell, who was on an amateur contract with the third division side and this, was terminated with immediate effect.

Two youth players,from St.Mirren and Clyde, are currently under investigation by their respective clubs, for comments made yesterday in regards to Neil Lennon and the parcel bombs.

Ardrossan Winton Rovers under 15s manager, John Leishman commented on the situation of social media in Football, John said he hasn’t got a problem with his players using social media sites as long as they don’t use it to offend or “slag off” other teams. At such a young age group, boys and girls will be under peer pressure from their friends to go out at night, possibly smoking and/drinking, John was strict on this saying they would take immediate action on any players who breached this rule.

One other use of social media is for football fans to vent their fury or on occasion become bigoted and sectarian. This is something that does not belong in the 21st century and it is often narrow-minded, and immature. It has been said that sites, such as Twitter, are giving these ‘bigots’ a home and something has to be done about it.

Social media has changed the way that all sport is brought to the nation, news gets across much quicker than it ever has done and it is becoming more and more accessible to the general public. Sportsmen and women who choose to use these sites have to be very careful what they say and who they say it too and should take note of the professionals who have made the mistake of venting their anger to the public.

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About Author

Paul is a student journalist and an avid follower of almost all sports. A regular blogger and self styled Twitter enthusiast! Paul is a contributor for Youth Football Scotland, and has recently helped with co-hosting their podcast. He is part of the team that produces the Football Podcast - The Commentary Box.

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