Has social media improved the football experience?
It’s a bold question, but a relevant one on the day that the recently inaugurated England manager faces an absolute shit storm on the streets of Twitter after a Daily Telegraph investigation released footage of him “negotiat[ing] a £400,000 deal and offer[ing] advice to businessmen on how to “get around” FA rules on player transfers”.
Of course, many of you won’t remember what it was like before multi screening offered a platform to anyone who fancied commentating on a game, a haircut, an opinion or any other episode of complete lunacy that occurs within the ever broadening parameters of our beloved game. We just used to watch football on TV and talk about the action with interested parties the following day or week, read the papers and buy into the merriment when newspaper staff with a passing acquaintance of MS Paint used to turn our national managers into root vegetables. It rarely amounted to anything.
Now any fool can Photoshop Sam Allardyce into a canoe on a river of gravy (me), Arsene Wenger with a special cigarette (er…me) or Fernando Torres into a Scarface movie poster (sorry, everyone) and post it online, while the level playing field offered by social media means that ill-informed opinion can and does obtain as much traction as meaningful debate. If there’s enough weight behind a reaction (even an insanely stupid one), the relevant authorities rarely have a choice but to acknowledge it, whether that be through a statement or action.
It really doesn’t help. While the Daily Telegraph’s footage captures Allardyce making a series of comments about fellow professionals, including his predecessor, and he plays the big ‘I am’ to a group of people attempting to facilitate a transfer deal, there’s nothing as egregious as Glenn Hoddle’s comments about disabled people in there. Arguably in years gone by, Allardyce would have received a stiff talking to and been allowed to go about his business. As it is, the FA are currently holding talks to decide his future.
But as former Swansea defender Chico Flores showed us this morning, the world is a vastly different place now. Flores, who now plays for Qatari club Lekhwiya SC, was famously involved in a touchline spat with Allardyce when the latter was manager of West Ham.
Presumably still stinging from the guffaw his alleged playacting elicited from Allardyce, Flores took to social media, first posting a link to the story of Allardyce’s ‘indiscretion’, then his reaction to it.
It might have been better in the old days, but it’s definitely funnier today.