The Wonderful World of Football: Twitter

Last updated : 11 January 2011 By Iain Bate - Wba-mad Editor

When asked by a journalist for his thoughts on footballers using Twitter, Wolves boss Mick McCarthy responded by saying it would be more apt if the letter ‘i’ was replaced with an ‘a’. But regardless of his comical and archaic retort, the social networking site has undoubtedly become an increasingly useful information tool within the game.

It makes the world a smaller place, and at a time when players, certainly at the highest level, have never been so far removed from supporters, any resource that helps bridge the gap should be encouraged

Crucially, it allows fans and players to interact directly. England captain and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is the most obvious example, offering his near 500,000 followers daily insights into the life of a professional footballer. It works both ways too, as he is also able to set the record straight on any story involving himself that is inaccurate. Alternatively, his general observations, whether discussing uncomfortable train journeys or the latest events in Albert Square, are humorous and serve as a reminder that some of our idols can be just like us, despite the multi-million pound salaries, luxury motors and tabloid tales.

Elsewhere, England forwards Kevin Davies and Darren Bent are well worth following, as is the imitable Robbie Savage. Likewise, the nomadic Rohan Ricketts, currently a free agent, offers candid thoughts on life at the other end of the football spectrum.

But it is not all good news. The problem with a site so accessible is that any regrettable spur of the moment thought is only a click away from becoming public record. Just ask Ryan Babel, Glen Johnson or Marvin Morgan. Players who via Twitter have questioned the integrity of a referee with a doctored photograph, mocked a former pros past alcohol and gambling addiction and wished death upon his own supporters respectively.

Babel has now been charged for his juvenilia, and rightly so, while Morgan has been farmed out on loan. Consequently, it appears increasingly likely that clubs will now use legalities to prevent any further issues, such as Twitter clauses being inserted into contracts, stating what a player can and can’t say.

Implementing provisions to avoid repeats of these incidents is understandable, but it shouldn't be that complex. Contrary to popular belief, plenty of footballers are both bright and self-aware. It would be wrong if the ones resorting to stereotype spoiled it for everybody else.

Players need only adhere to one rule: if in doubt, don’t tweet.

Follow Tom on Twitter here