How to write about footballers on Twitter
Andi Thomas is an enigma. If he isn’t taking a wry look at footballers, he’s taking a wry look at how people write about football. Here is his handy guide on reporting on a football Twitterstorm.
PRO-FORMA: FOR USE WHEN A FOOTBALLER HAS “TWEETED” SOMETHING INADVISABLE.
[Club/country] ace [name] whipped up ["fresh" if repeat offender] controversy last night, after he took the social networking site Twitter to taunt/mock rival fans/players over their recent defeat/failure in the transfer market/trophy drought/adoption of a cerise change strip [or whatever].
[Name] tweeted [quote], in reference to [whatever they were on about], a comment that enraged orphans/Liverpool fans/philatelists [or whoever]. Initially, [name] claimed that his tweet was simple banter/a direct message that had gone wrong/not offensive, but soon retracted and deleted the tweet, adding “sorry for any offence caused”.
Fans of both sides weighed into the debate. [Stupid Twitter handle] said [asinine and half-formed self-righteous opinion], while [stupid Twitter handle] noted that [irrelevant exercise in whataboutery].
Inevitably, some fans went too far. Police will be speaking to [stupid Twitter handle] after he Tweeted [death threat and/or racial abuse], while [stupid Twitter handle] seemed confused as to the nature of the controversy: [spurious attempt to link the controversy to Liverpool/whoever].
[Following pars optional]
This isn’t the first time [Name] has been in trouble over his use of the internet. Earlier this/Last season he had to apologise to fans/his manager/his team-mates after publishing inappropriate photographs of a penis/information regarding his side’s tactics for an upcoming game/tweets claiming that Nando’s was a frankly mundane option for an evening meal [or whatever].
Twitter, of course, has been posing a headache for managers ever since early 2007, when the first footballer tapped out 140 characters. That tweet was innocuous enough: former Wycombe Wanderers forward Jermaine McSporran — aka @jmcspoz69 – informed the world “just made a hat out of lettuce, lol”. But the trickle soon became a flood, and soon players were telling the world what they were eating, who they were eating it with, what their wives had said when they found out who they’d been eating with, and where they’d taken their wife to “rediscover their love” after the ensuing tabloid kiss and tell. The whole business reached something of a nadir when journeyman forward Leon Knight posted a picture of himself wearing the peeled skin of a recently-slaughtered prostitute, adding: “when da bitch is clingy #dropmeout #lad”.
AND/OR (if writing for Telegraph/Mail)
Twitter is a “social networking” tool. “Users”, who normally go under an assumed name or “handle”, exchange “tweets”: short messages limited to 140 characters. Notable Twitter users include flamboyant television personality Stephen Fry, pop sensation Adele, and lifestyle guru Jeremy Clarkson. Things are occasionally confused by so-called “parody accounts”, in which users assume the identities of other, more famous individuals, for the purposes of amusement. Notable examples include @Queen_UK, a user posing as the monarch, and @Ed_Miliband, an intermittently hilarious satire of the very concept of effective opposition.
CONCLUDING PARS. EITHER
The club have announced that they are looking at the wider issue of players on Twitter, and will be taking steps to ensure that their players are issued with guidelines on appropriate behaviour on the internet. However, they added that they believe Twitter to be a valuable tool for players to engage with fans, and are hopeful that with the correct guidance, valuable sponsorship messages can be given a patina of spontaneity, the better to ensure that the message of the club is understood by its fans.
OR (if Liverpool)
The club have announced that Twitter is just another example of the flagrant anti-Liverpool bias displayed by the present day, and have vowed to continue living in the past where it is warm and there were big shiny silver pots to cuddle.
FILE, AND AWAIT PULITZER.
Image: Well Offside