Monday, 28 February 2011

How Twitter has changed the spectation of football for the fans

The press has given Twitter a poor representation. It’s been portrayed as a place where gossip originates, rants unleash and annoying famous people try to act normal and fail..miserably. To be honest, this is all true. But there are some brilliant positives for being part of the Twitter movement, especially regarding football.

The beauty of Twitter is that it gives the fan’s instant updates of what’s going down in the footballing world. Of course most of the credit has to go the journalists and the sport pages from the Newspapers and the likes of Sky Sports who all use Twitter. These sporting institutions play a crucial role in the footballing aspect of Twitter. As the ease of posting tweets have allowed journalists to post breaking information, quickly and concisely to the fans from virtually any mobile phone, laptop or computer. This enables the fan to have a better knowledge of what’s happening at their club and around the footballing globe.

A perfect example of this is the transfer news and gossip. I joined Twitter in the middle of January 2011. Maybe this was the one of the most ideal periods for any football lover to have Twitter. This is simply because Twitter enabled me to have knowledge on most of the transfer issues around the globe. Of course, one may turn around and say, ‘just look at the BBC gossip page, or the Sky Sports website.’ But the difference with Twitter is that you can get the news instantaneously from one application. And even if a news story is yet to be confirmed, you can bet the football fans on Twitter will already know about the story. A perfect example is Blackpool’s Charlie Adam handing in his transfer request. The story was well known on Twitter before it hit the Sky Sports News breaking news ticker bar.

Furthermore, with Twitter you can see reports being confirmed by different football institutions. This makes the news far more credible. As its been verified by different footballing sources. A perfect example is when Fernando Torres was rumoured to be leaving Liverpool.

The evening started off with various tweets confirming Liverpool had reached an agreement to sign Luis Suarez from Ajax. This was met by the Twitter community (especially the Liverpool fans) with great happiness and pride. But this news was quickly overshadowed by another burning issue. Tweets began to continually flow in stating Fernando Torres had handed in a transfer request at Liverpool. However, there was something I recognised. What surprised me about that day, was even though various tweets from respected football journalists such as Guillem Balague. They all tweeted that Torres had handed in a transfer request. But the larger football institutions such as BBC and Sky Sports didn’t publish the story until a few hours later. This made me consider that if I didn’t have Twitter, I probably would have been celebrating the Luis Suarez signing a lot more and would have been oblivious to Torres handing in a transfer request. But because of the continuous tweets regarding Torres’ future, this made me sit up and take the story with all seriousness.

Another fantastic aspect of Twitter for football fans is that footballers use Twitter too. This makes footballers more accessible to the fans. Of course, there is a light and day difference in terms of economic welfare between the fans and the players. But before Twitter there wasn’t a feasible way for players to be accessible to the fans. Twitter allows the fans to learn more about their hero’s and have a little incite into their lives. It also works the other way too. Footballers can see how much they are appreciated by the fans. In some respects, the fans now have the application to motivate the players and inspire them. As they can send tweets in support and appreciation to the players.

Some players on Twitter try and create a connection with the fans too. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Lucas Levia , Johan Djourou and many more, create competitions for their followers to win signed shirts and even meet the star themselves. The concept of being even more connected to the fans is visibly clear with some footballers. Rio Ferdinand consistently holds question and answer sessions on Twitter. This works by the fans tweeting him questions and he tweets the answers to their questions. Of course the relationship between the fans and professional footballers is still hugely distant. It’s not like these footballers are going round your house for tea. But for the first time in a long time, the players are becoming a little more reachable for the fans. Its about time, to be honest.

Some footballer’s tweets have caused controversy. Ryan Babel was fined for posting a picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt after the United- Liverpool game. Arguably cases like this cause bad press about footballer’s use of Twitter. As some may see Twitter as a place where footballers act like idiots and just complain about life. This isn’t really the case. Every now and then you see a footballer showing the little common sense they have. But most footballers represent themselves very well on Twitter. Some footballers also ReTweet comments by the fans and ReTweet support to charities. These positive actions clearly highlight the gracious and supportive attitude of the players.

Some players have even confirmed or denied speculation of their future on Twitter. Steven Pienaar confirmed to the world via Twitter that he was joining Tottenham. Whereas, Charlton Cole denied speculation linking him to a deadline day transfer through Twitter. This shows that Twitter can be used by players to get their message directly across to the fans. In some respects, Twitter works as a mini statement space for footballers. As they can confirm or deny issues without the need of a journalist or a media outlet to publish the story. Twitter allows the fans the space to voice their views on the latest football issues and results. The social networking site works as a big debating platform. As Tweeters may ReTweet in agreement or tweet in disagreement. Of course, every now and then there are some first class twats on there, who talk no sense. But generally people have great thoughts and are kind and open to discussion.

Twitter has changed the spectation of football. The fans can now connect to their heroes more than ever before. But the biggest aspect of Twitter and football is that lovers of the game can learn news of their club within minutes of it happening. Giving the fans more information than ever before.

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