It never ceases to amaze me how multi-million pound footballers, or perhaps more specifically their agents and/or representatives, continue to allow their staggering stupidity and downright ignorance to be showcased so frequently under the unforgiving spotlight of scrutiny that befalls social media.
Yes we’ve all humoured the banal musings of budding Friedrich Nietzsche heir Joey Barton, but the modern EPL footballer’s embracing of Twitter is fast becoming the graphic equivalent of sleeping with the devil!
Rather than keeping a dignified silence while wallowing in a pool of self-pity, Rio Ferdinand attracted as much scorn as he did sympathy for his numerous tweets in relation to his omission from England’s Euro 2012 squad; Woe-Is-Me Rio largely coming across as a self-centred, arrogant and spoilt brat. But fast-forward to this last weekend and suddenly Rio has shrewdly and intelligently decided to wade yet further into the race storm surrounding his cousin, Anton Ferdinand, and the recently-acquitted John Terry.
To cut a long and hideously dull story mercifully short, Rio used his infinite wisdom to respond positively towards a tweet left by a contributor to his page; the tweet made in reference to Ashley Cole’s appearance as a witness in support of John Terry and accusing the Chelsea and England full-back of being a ‘choc-ice’….a well-known derogatory insult clearly suggesting that Cole was ‘black on the outside but white on the inside’.
Now although Rio did not make the accusation himself he now faces calls for the English FA to haul him before their disciplinary panel. Wouldn’t you have thought that 33yr old Rio Ferdinand, a vastly experienced EPL and international campaigner, the Man Utd stalwart who has navigated a relatively safe passage through a 15yr career as a top-flight professional footballer – apart from the odd missed drugs test and subsequent ban from the game – might have taken just the tiniest millisecond to consider the likely consequences of his misjudged response to that comment?!?
And that is the problem with Twitter in particular! It is a reactionary, impulsive social media which lays bare the closeted world of the modern footballer and leaves them wide-open to intense scrutiny and ridicule. While I accept their desire to appear open and accessible to their legions of fans the harsh reality is that the vast majority of professional footballers do not possess the intelligence, awareness or judgement to avoid the pitfalls presented by such an unregulated media. And because of the very likely probability of attracting controversy – however unintended it may be (although not, I fear, in the case of Rio) – I remain staggered, with the potential damage to reputations and, consequently, commercial interests, that football clubs, managers and players’ agents and representatives continue to indulge the players’ fascination with social media….with Twitter especially!