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July 31, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Football and Social Media: Part 2

In my previous article on football and social media I looked at the impact social media has had on fans access to players, and the problems that it had already caused. Since then things have not improved.

It’s impossible to ignore the story that has taken up a large bulk of the season; the John Terry racism row. Terry was alleged to have made racial comments about Queens Park Rangers defender during a match. Terry was found not guilty with Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle saying that the case was not about proving whether Terry was a racist or not and that he had heard a great deal of evidence that proved is not. However, Riddle also said, “It is a crucial fact that nobody has given evidence they heard what Mr Terry said or more importantly how he said it.”

Many were surprised by the decision, with some expecting Terry to be made an example of. Talk Sport’s drive time Twitter account, run by presenter Adrian Durham said, “Magistrate basically says John Terry said the words “f****** b**** c***” but can’t be sure it was an insult. Read that back. Incredible.”

Rio Ferdinand, brother of Anton, stirred up further controversy by replying to a tweet made by an Arsenal fan calling Terry’s teammate and a witness for his defence, Ashley Cole, a “choc ice.” Ferdinand responded by saying, “Choc ice is classic hahahahahaha!!” When people started responding to Ferdinand he described it as sarcasm and that choc ice was another way of calling someone a fake. Devonshire Police have said they will investigate the initial tweet to Ferdinand after receiving complaints from members of the public.

Given the amount of work that has been made by the FA, the Football League and charities such as Kick It Out to try and rid football of racism, this whole affair has left English football very tainted. It is understandable as to why Ferdinand may have been angered by the verdict of his brother’s case against John Terry, but he put himself at risk of fines and suspensions by giving agreeing with someone whose comments on Ashley Cole could be perceived as racist.

It is encouraging that since the start of the Olympics the athletes have managed to keep themselves out of trouble. Despite laying down rules for the athletes to abide to, which I have written about here, many have signed off their accounts for the next few weeks to concentrate on the competition.

The police arrested a 17 year old after sending an abusive message to British diver Tom Daley yesterday, saying that he’d let his recently deceased father down. He later sent a number of apologies to Daley saying “I’m sorry mate I just wanted you to win cause it’s the Olympics I’m just annoyed we didn’t win I’m sorry Tom accept my apology.” Police were unable to comment whether the arrest was made because of his comments to Daley or due to other interactions.

Perhaps now is the time that clubs and the governing bodies need to lay down firmer rules for player’s use of social media. Should football’s relationship with social media continue to go down the path it is, it cannot be too long until it finds itself having to deal with a major crisis.

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