Posts tagged england
Posts tagged england
The social network site, home to 300 million users, created in 2006, has allowed a closeness to the footballing world never experienced before: at least, not with such synchronicity. The quick, instant and concise characteristics of Twitter quickly attracted the attention of businesses, and football clubs rapidly followed, with many branching out to a global audience to promote themselves during recessionary times through this free method of communication, marketing and, most importantly and most valued, interaction.
The growth Twitter has experienced is undoubtedly down to, in large, the intimacy it provides the everyday person with its less everyday users, such as Piers Morgan, Rihanna and Rio Ferdinand: in its market, it is unrivalled on this selling point.
It has blessed the world of football kindly, too. In recent times, we’ve had: the overnight phenomenon that is @AnfieldCat, which has, since its creation in the immediate aftermath of a cat stopping play at Anfield during Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham, racked up over 60,000 followers; the ability to get instant access to England player’s views over the next England manager and captain, in such tweets as “Gutted capello has quit. Good guy and top coach. Got to be english to replace him. Harry redknapp for me (sp.)” and “For everyone asking i would love to be england captain. But thats upto new manager to decide. Gerrard is perfect choice for me (sp),” both from Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney; and lastly, but only indirectly strictly football related, are the parody accounts created on Twitter, which amass thousands of followers, look on the lighter side of what is sometimes a grim game and provide endless topical humour on the footballing world.
However, for all its positives, Twitter has a vile side when it comes to the relationships forged between the followers and the following: Manchester United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson slammed the social network site back in May, saying, “I don’t understand it…I don’t know why anybody can be bothered with …It is a waste of time,” having seen then Red Devils midfielder Darron Gibson axe his account having received numerous abusive Tweets from users of the site. Since May 2011, his views haven’t swayed too much, yet Rio Ferdinand’s following as well as Wayne Rooney’s, has since doubled: “I don’t know how to do these things….I’m not into that kind of stuff.”
Unfortunately, however, Darron Gibson wasn’t to be the first and last footballer to have to quit Twitter thanks to abuse. Although Newcastle striker Demba Ba wasn’t the direct recipient of racist Tweets, Peter Copeland, a 29-year old unemployed man living with his parents, still posted racist remarks concerning the Senegalese international: “With the number of darkies in your f**king team, you should be called the Coon Army.” Fortunately, for Ba’s 75,507 followers (myself included), Copeland’s case was adjourned for sentencing under breach of the Malicious Communications Act and the former West Ham striker has kept his Twitter account.
Yet, for Micah Richards, after three months of continual racist abuse, he did feel the need to close his account: “I did enjoy Twitter and the banter with the fans, but I didn’t like the abuse you get on it. Sometimes you want to retaliate, but you have to be the bigger man and not.” It’s a sentiment wisely expressed by a player that hasn’t always been the wisest and highlighted just how intimate Twitter can be: following a string of offensive Tweets in May 2011, Wayne Rooney threatened a respondent, seemingly unable to be “the bigger man,” but Rooney insists it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.
It’s a sad case that racism is still so prevalent in society, let alone football: however, when there have been numerous cases of racism in football itself, such as the on-going John Terry case and the Evra-Suarez saga, it is hardly surprising that the same behaviour is being replicated by so-called fans of the game. But, that is no excuse for such behaviour: so surely, some sort of moderation should be put in place to prevent such Tweets from ever being posted?
Take the recent Twitter abuse inflicted on Southampton’s January signing Billy Sharp for example: whilst Sharp was playing for Saints in their 1-1 away draw to West Ham on Valentine’s Day, a user who has since closed his account, like Copeland did, tweeted despicable and hateful comments directly to Billy Sharp. On October 29th 2011, Luey Jacob Sharp, Billy’s two-day year old son passed away due to Gastroschisis. @ChrisDRFCBoyd used this sad fact to taunt the Southampton striker with taunting jibes and sick comments. Surely moderation to prevent such comments from ever reaching users should be in place?
However, moderation takes time and, sadly, time is money and that is the selling point of Twitter: it is a free to use social networking site, valued by businesses for the service it provides in which companies can efficiently and instantaneously interact with the public and the same is said for footballers and their employees. Thisisfutbol editor, Harry Cloke says that for his website, Twitter is “pretty vital. In terms of creating a sense of community, creating discussion and controlling traffic it’s essential.”
The free promotion it provides has seen numerous football clubs rapidly take advantage to increase their social media presence and since it went big, English clubs have quickly dominated the scene with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United coming in at #5, #4 & #3 respectively, in the most followed clubs according to Facebook and Twitter: however, Real Madrid and Barcelona, in second and first place, is a harsh reminder that La Liga threatens to overshadow the Premier League.
So if moderation seems like an implausible possibility, surely Twitter can use a form of word filter, such as the ones utilised on forums, to prevent such offensive Tweets from being published?
Only time will tell. However, to challenge a concept favoured by one of Twitter’s more liberal users, Joey Barton, who’s love of freedom is clear in his posts, describing The F.A. as an “Orwellian institution,” when they requested he didn’t offer his predictions for Premier League games on Twitter, and stating he’d “gladly go to jail for a month, in the name of free speech,” I leave you with this:
Twitter allows the quick and easy access to a public domain in which freedom of speech is allowed: however, how long will it be before that freedom will inhibit others in their numbers, like it already has done to Micah Richards?
Is it time for football to give Twitter the red card, or is it too much of a crowd pleaser?
Much like a heated debate between a Mancunian and Scouse family, but not quite as romantic as the Montagues and Capulets, the mother hen has got involved, Peggy Mitchell style, and it’s not the first time one has stepped in for a Liverpool player and defended their perfect, pretty boy son. Obviously seeing what such a brilliant reception Carol Konchesky got for her defence of her son Paul, labelling Liverpool “scouse scum” and slamming their team as “sh*t” in some kind of attack to defend method more suitable to a Harry Redknapp team, Sandra Suarez has chosen to, in the wake of her son’s 8-match ban, speak out and suitably add some accelerant to an already raging fire of controversy, fine lines and F.A double-standards.
Where CK - and that’s Carol Konchesky, not Calvin Klein, although both are responsible for talking pants – decided to leap to the defence of her son in the immediate aftermath of a performance unworthy of the Liverpool shirt, Mrs. Suarez has waited 82 days to label her son, “no racist,” displaying the kind of urgency Liverpool attacks have shown this season. She may, however, have been tactically delaying her outpouring of amazingly fluent and colloquial emotion for a non-English speaker, “The FA went to town by banning him for eight matches,” until the New Year in an early bid for Football Mum of the Year 2012.
Last year’s winner Kimberley Bentley, the mother of David’s children, seems to have inspired Mrs. Suarez’s early attempt at securing the title while January is still upon us, with her January 2011 Twitter-mediated entry of, “Sort it out Harry for f*** sake!” which sparked Redknapp to allow the bench-warming Bentley to leave on loan, ensuring Daddy would “earn” his money, joining Birmingham City until the end of the season, where he won Mr. “Flattered to Deceive” from The Birmingham Mail’s Colin Tattum, just six days after Kimberley’s eloquent demand.
Mrs. Bentley herself, drew inspiration from a fellow Spurs player’s family member: in 2010, the award of Football Mum of the Year went to Orfilia Palacios, who, whilst over from Honduras in October 2010, demanded that Harry Redknapp played her son against Everton so she could see him play; and so he did, before leaving for Stoke City at the end of the season. Redknapp paid tribute to Mrs. Palacios, “She was quite a big girl so I [had] to play him. I wasn’t going to mess with her, believe you me!” not knowing that he would go on to be a pushover once more in 2011, to someone considerably smaller, and I imagine more attractive, than Mrs. Palacios.
However, it seems that the burning ring of emotion that Luis Suarez set alight on the fateful day of October 15th, which Kenny Dalglish has stood by and tried to manage carefully by the means of a routine prod with a long stick to the heart of the fire, whilst claiming that, in Suarez’s words, he “never, ever used “negro” in a derogatory way,” just won’t go out. Yet, instead of honourably taking his punishment, apologising with remorse and in a proper fashion and thus ending a raging flame with a quick squirt of the fire hydrant, Luis Suarez and his team mates have danced around emphatically to Billy Joel, whilst singing “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” with their false-prophet adorned with a top that can only be described in the same breath as one of Kim Jong-Il’s apparent inventions such as the “double bread with meat” (more commonly known as the hamburger): it was nothing short of a display of vanity.
“It’s a shame because it had been a perfect year for Luis,” said Sandra, as she readjusted her rose-tinted glasses that were slowly falling down her evermore resembling Pinocchio nose: in fact, it had been a year in which Liverpool fans have had to defend their shoulder-biting, handballing hero-cum-villain for his various acts of petulance and idiocy that is neatly summed up with his response to the 7-game ban that he joined Liverpool on the back of, for biting Otman Bakkal, “No, I do not regret what happened. Normally I always keep calm but I didn’t: I’m a little tired. This week I had to travel a lot.” Expect Demba Ba, Gervinho and Didier Drogba to return from Gabon and Equatorial Guinea foaming from the mouth.
Ultimately, it is time the whole debacle was put on the back burner and left to be forgotten as Dalglish, Lord Ouseley and Paul Goulding QC tuck into their double bread with meat from the comfort of the kitchen, as the rain pours down outside on The F.A’s premature BBQ and the flame is finally extinguished nearly 90 days later. With shoddy apology statements, hounding interviews and interfering mothers becoming involved, the whole situation is making a mockery of the game and serving as an unwanted distraction from what is genuinely one of the most interesting seasons of English football in years. This season, two teams that have never won the Premier League are in contention for the title, the Manchester heavyweights are in the Europa League, whilst this season’s so-called underachievers of Arsenal and Chelsea compete in the knockout stages of the Champions League and Euro 2012 provides England with a chance to redeem themselves after poor showings since the turn of the millennium when it comes to the big tournaments.
Let’s remember this season for the positives such as those listed above and not prolonged, image damaging and backward step-taking occurrences such as the Evra-Suarez case.
2011 has yet again served up a footballing platter of delight, with Mario Balotelli at one end of the table banging his fists on the woodwork and Pele at the other end in a triangular power struggle with Messi and Neymar, whilst Sir Alex Ferguson revels in his 25th year in charge at Manchester United and Arsene Wenger continues his creche project down at the Emirates: all this is going on with the continuous shaking of hands under the watchful eye of Sepp Blatter, making sure no offence is caused, whilst causing offence himself.
Many favourite moments on yesterday’s Twitter trending hashtag,#2011Footballmemories, culminated with tales of tragedy, tenacity and typical Mario Balotelli behaviour and so much so, that it began trending as its own entity: #2011favouritebalotellimoment. The mischievous, yet overly generous, intelligent, yet overly simplistic and clever, yet overly crazy Balotelli could dominate a whole story with his tales of 2011. Over the past 12 months, Mad Mario has: taken an iPad with him to sit on the substitute bench to play Angry Birds, celebrated a 6-1 derby victory with a ”Why Always Me?” shirt, winked at Rio Ferdinand as the England defender bulged out of his very shirt, given £200 at a midnight mass, caused fire damage at his own house with fireworks before becoming an ambassador for a fire safety campaign, confronted a school bully, jokingly asked a reporter who Jack Wilshere is, announced he has an allergy to grass and displayed signs if ineptitude when it comes to sporting clothes, when he struggled to put on a bib in a warm up. I am certainly a fan of Mario Balotelli.
On a personal level, 2011 is full of brilliant footballing memories for me as a Saints fan: it has been the most successful year we’ve enjoyed in my life time and the achievements of the club under the Italian eye of Nicola Cortese and the fluid passing mentality of inspirational manager Nigel Adkins and tactician Andy Crosby, have been nothing short of record breaking.
In 2011, finishing with a loss against Bristol City on Friday night, Southampton F.C have gone over 12 calendar months unbeaten in league games at home (and their only league loss was the one last night), set a new club record of a 21-match winning home run and won promotion from League 1, to set sail straight to the Premier League, leading the pack at the top of the Championship going into 2012.
Meanwhile, Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte have both signed new long-term deals, Rickie Lambert is the top scorer in the Championship silencing all of his pre-season critics and Lallana was officially recognised as the best player of the Championship by a fans poll conducted bytheseventytwo.
However, it hasn’t just been Mario Balotelli and my hometown club that has made 2011 for me: England have managed to qualify for an international competition once more, with the idea of Wilshere, Cleverley, Sturridge, Jones and Rodwell genuinely exciting me about an England team for the first time since 2002; the PL has served up mammoth results at the top of the table with Man Utd 8-2 Arsenal, Man utd 1-6 Man City, Chelsea 2-1 Man City, Arsenal 5-3 Chelsea, Man Utd 3-1 Chelsea and Barcelona have continued to dominate club football across the world while supplying the majority of the Spanish first team, who continuously impress against all opposition and expectantly go into Euro 2012 as favourites to win the Championship back-to-back.
However, the game has had its low points too and they’re the moments that can tarnish the game’s reputation or remind the world that football is, after all, just a game in the wider context of life. Racism has seemingly dominated the last quarter of the 2011 footballing year and it all stemmed from a comment “lost in translation” from the Uruguayan Luis Suarez to the Frenchman Patrice Evra, heightened by John Terry’s alleged remarks that have resulted in a CPS investigation, empowered with an 8-match ban for Luis Suarez, but made a mockery of throughout by Sepp Blatter and his slapdash remarks in defence of the game he is responsible for, “There is no racism, maybe a word or gesture that is not correct, [but] the one affected by this should say this is a game and shake hands.” Furthermore, the loss of footballing greats such as Socrates and Gary Speed, particularly the way in which the latter left us, has put the game into perspective: it as after all, just a game.
However, the good bits, the rushes of adrenaline such as Jonathan Forte scoring a brace against MK Dons to draw the game level from 2-down, the fist pumping moments, such as Richard Chaplow’s goal against Manchester United and the hug a stranger moments, such as Rickie Lambert’s goal against Portsmouth, have made 2011 great for me and for the footballing world. Everyone’s year would have been made by different clubs, different players and different outcomes: in 2009, mine was that I still had a club to support thanks to the generosity of Markus Liebherr, in 2010 it was winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and in 2011 it was promotion to the Championship and then going into the New Year top. Next year I hope I can go into 2013 supporting a Premier League club, but what has been your favourite moment of 2011 and what are you proud to go into 2012 having experienced?
Tell us below