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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Footballers On The 140-Character Field

We have seen players tackling and dribbling on the football field but let’s look at how these players perform when it comes to expressing their thoughts in 140-characters. Twitter is becoming really popular amongst sports personalities. As fans, we always wish that someday we could meet our favourite stars and twitter is a platform where anybody can interact with these stars.

As a professional footballer you can utilise this platform to interact with fans and become even more famous. However, this interaction sometimes leads to trouble. As a sports personality, whatever you say on such networks can be quoted by the media and one statement can be twisted in many ways, so you have to be really smart as to how to use twitter.

‘The Golden Tweep’ Award

Lionel Messi is currently the best football player but on a 140-character pitch, who is the smartest footballer on Twitter?

In the summer transfer window, the Belgian star Eden Hazard was linked with all big European clubs and it was up to him to decide which club to choose. Hazard did something smart. He said that he will announce his future club on twitter. As a result, he got thousands of followers and the whole international media was waiting for his next tweet. He did exactly as promised. He tweeted, “I'm signing for the champion's league winner [Chelsea]”. That tweet became news.

Another such tweet came from Dutch international Robin van Persie, who tweeted, “Update for the fans…” with a link to his website where he announced that he won’t be extending his contract with Arsenal. Unfortunately for him, he got negative remarks because he posted news that would hurt over 2 million of his followers. That wasn’t very smart.

If we count followers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Kaka are dominating that department with both having around 13 million followers. However, it is not the number of followers that matters, it is how your fans enjoy interacting with you on twitter. It is hard to pin point one player and give him the “Golden Tweep” award. However based on the number of followers and the quality of updates, it has to be Cristiano Ronaldo.

Twitter XI

To be fair to all the leading footballers on Twitter based on the number of followers (as on 14.09.2012), we can make a Twitter XI squad. For each position, I’ve found a player with the highest followers count.

Here’s the squad:
GK: Victor Valdes (FC Barcelona, 1.34 million @1victorvaldes)
RB: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid, 1.45 million @aarbeloa17)
CB: Girard Pique (FC Barcelona, 4 million @3gerardpique)
CB: Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United, 3.32 million @rioferdy5)
LB: Andre Santos (Arsenal, 0.77 million @Andre_Santos27)
RM: Andres Iniesta (FC Barcelona, 4.44 million @andresiniesta8)
CM: Cesc Fabregas (FC Barcelona, 4.16 million @cesc4official)
CM: Kaka (Real Madrid, 12.7 million @kaka)
LM: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid, 3.18 million @XabiAlonso)
FW: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, 5.0 million @WayneRooney)
FW: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, 13.1 million @Cristiano)

Looks like fullbacks are least interested in twitter, unlike the strikers! This squad can actually make a very strong team.

The Banter

Some footballers like to take on the rival fans for some banter. Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere challenged Tottenham fans to have a bet with him on whether Arsenal will finish above Spurs or not. Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe accepted the challenge and they had a £3000 bet which was later raised to £5000. Such acts have made Twitter famous. Fans love to see their players involved in such acts.


Twitter might be good fun for the fans and players but it doesn’t necessarily excite the team managers who want their players to avoid controversies and unnecessary media attention. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once said “I don't understand it [Twitter] to be honest with you. I don't know why anybody can be bothered with that kind of stuff.” He even hinted towards banning his players from using Twitter. That however was triggered by Wayne Rooney, who offered to fight a fan online. Rooney tweeted to a rival fan, “I’ll put you to sleep in 10 seconds.” Surely that would concern the manager.

There have been many such controversies. Ryan Babel, former Liverpool winger was the first player on Twitter to be fined by the FA for posting a fabricated picture of referee Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United shirt. He ended up paying a fine of £10,000.

Joey Barton is another Twitter hot-head. Just like his attitude on the pitch, Barton likes to tweet anything he wants, ignoring the possible consequences. His transfer to Marseille was also done immediately after his controversial tweets.

Rio Ferdinand is the latest to be fined by the FA. His tweet where he referred to Ashley Cole as “choc-ice” cost him £45,000.

Such controversies don’t come to us as a surprise. Fans love to have their favourite players on Twitter. People are now following their favourite players and teams on Twitter knowing that news will reach them faster through tweets rather than the regular media. It has made a big impact.

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