Pointing out how social media is engaging with the football world
In the summer of 2003, Real Madrid unveiled their ‘signing of the season’ in the club’s basketball stadium in front of 500 journalists from 25 countries. Dubbed as the ‘first celebrity footballer’, David Beckham joined a galaxy of stars already at the Bernabeu.
Since then, transfer sagas have been more or less the same. The player’s future is often wrapped with speculation before his agent releases mandatory bland statements such as; ‘He is 100% committed to the current club’, only for the footballer to pose with the jersey of a new side.
While the theme has remained unchanged even today, the way clubs are announcing their signings has changed forever, especially with the advent of social media in our lives. Aston Villa made headlines this summer for signing former Chelsea and England skipper John Terry.
If the acquisition itself did not grab them enough eyeballs, their uniquely dramatised WhatsApp conversation between Steve Bruce and club chairman Tony Xia certainly amused most fans. Similarly, Liverpool made Mohamed Salah scroll through their Twitter feed before ‘announcing’ his arrival.
Given equal importance as the sport itself is EA Sports’ life-like video game FIFA which has become highly influential in the world of football. Italian giants Roma made their new signing Lorenzo Pellegrini play as himself in an AS Roma shirt to confirm that he had joined the club.
All these examples point to one thing; the fashion in which new signings are announced is now as significant as the signing itself, let alone his performances on the field.
Twitter’s star footballer
When Yellow Journalism was at its peak during the nineties and early noughties, it was the players’ social lives and extra marital affairs that made headlines. However, over the last five years or so, journalism has gone for a toss completely.
Irrelevant tweets from players are made headlines these days. Take for instance Chelsea’s second striker Michy Batshuayi, who has 1.1 million followers on twitter. This is more than double of Diego Costa’s followers – who powered Chelsea to their last two Premier League titles.
Does this mean, Batshuayi has more than double the quality of Costa? Absolutely not! There are more chances of it being the other way around. In hindsight, Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has only 200K more followers than Batshuayi.
Does this mean Michy is on his way to become a club legend? It’s highly unlikely. The only reason the Belgian commands such a huge following is because of his candid and engaging tweets.
It is safe to say that the striker has spent more minutes on his Twitter account since moving to London than on the field at Stamford Bridge.
Batshuayi’s case is quite similar to Mario Balotelli’s time in Manchester where his tweets were scrutinized by the English media.
Speaking of Twitter diarrhea, everyone is aware of Joey Barton and his strong opinionated tweets…the less said about it, the better.
Moneyball and the rise of YouTube footballer
In order to keep their followers engaged throughout the week, Football websites have come up with a unique way, i.e., to share stats constantly. Something like this; 11,385 – The number of irrelevant stats that football media houses share in a run up to a fixture. Immaterial!
In no way does this mean that stats are useless. However, football has tried going the Moneyball route earlier with little success. The game is much more than stats.
There is no way to put into statistics a wonderful through-ball from Pirlo or a nutmeg from Messi. All social media can do is state the number of take-ons and pass completion rate. Even so, it is a much easier way to build up anticipation to a match or analyze a player’s performance.
Having discussed all of this, the one way social media has directly affected the game is the rise of the YouTube footballer. Scouts these days are spending less time on the pitch and more time on YouTube.
A catchy video with all sorts of edits can give you the impression of a Messi-esque player which might not be the case in reality. Although this has made life easier for budding footballers and scouts, the real gems tend to get hidden deep within the pile of amazingly edited videos.
Like most other things in the world, social media is a double-edged sword. Although there are positives about its impact on football, there are no two ways that it has changed the game forever.http://www.mediareferee.com/2017/12/pointing-impact-social-media-football-today/Post