Twitter might help aloof multi-millionaire players connect with ordinary football betting fans but it doesn’t always end in a positive PR story. Here, news.bwin.com/en/ takes a look at five cases where the use of Twitter by footballers has spectacularly backfired.
A Google study into the use of Twitter by footballers found that 88 per cent of the words used by Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand in his tweets were of a “basic” level, with just 11 per cent making it into the “intermediate” bracket. This put him bottom of the vocabulary league table behind the likes of Wayne Rooney, Joey Barton and Jack Wilshere. Clearly stung by this criticism, Ferdinand issued the following retort to his million-plus followers: “So if u shorten words to get wot u want in within 140characters it makes u a twit?! I think that’s working well within the 140 boundaries!” He later added: “I swear down, we need more than 140charcters on ere, I want 2 get tings across wivout avin 2 use numbers 4 words!” For those of you unable to decipher the Ferdinand code, this roughly translates as: “Understandably, I have in the past used abbreviations to ensure I get my message across within the 140 character limit.” And: “However, I would prefer it if the character limit was increased so I could get my ideas across in a more lucid manner.” Not that I’m bragging or anything, but you’ll notice that both of those sentences are tweetable.
Former Spurs striker Darren Bent was on his way out of White Hart Lane in the summer of 2009 when he took to Twitter to complain about how long his transfer was taking to finalise. Bent was upset that Spurs were still haggling over the fee with Sunderland, his preferred suitor, and, rather than discuss the matter with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, he decided his best bet would be to turn the Twitter air blue. “Do I wanna go Hull City. No. Do I wanna go Stoke. No. Do I wanna go Sunderland. Yes. So stop ******* around Levy.” Then: “Why can’t anything be simple? It’s so frustrating hanging around doing jack ****. Seriously getting ****** off right now. Sunderland are not the problem in the slightest.” Perhaps not the most dignified way to go about your business, but it worked in the end: Bent was soon being paraded at the Stadium of Light.
West Ham defender Danny Gabbidon learnt some valuable lessons about punctuation in December 2009 when tweeting an apology to Irons fans following a woeful performance against Bolton. “Sorry you had to witness that last night West Ham fans need to start showing the dedication that you have & things might start to improve!x,” he said. Unfortunately for the Wales star, the lack of a comma after the word ‘fans’ turned the peace offering into attack on the club’s supporters. Cue an outpouring of vitriol and a further apology from Gabbidon. However, he had a little more trouble explaining his tweet of 17th April this year, in which, apparently prompted by criticism from fans, he told followers: “U know what f*** the lot of you u will never get another tweet from me again u just don’t get it do you. Bye bye.” There’s no way of getting out of that one, no matter how many commas you throw at it. Gabs was duly fined £6,000 and he hasn’t tweeted since.
You wouldn’t put Carlton Cole down as a deep political thinker, but he apparently has some interesting things to say on the subject of immigration. The West Ham striker took to Twitter after England’s friendly with Ghana in March to share his thoughts, “jokingly” suggesting that the match at Wembley had been staged as part of a cunning ploy by the immigration department to round up UK-based Ghanaians, of whom there were an estimated 20,000 at the game. “Immigration has surrounded the wembley premises! I knew it was a trap! Hahahaha,” he tweeted. Others failed to laugh with him, and he was forced to defend himself amid accusations of racism.
Wayne Rooney also attempted to pass off controversial Twitter comments as humorous banter after becoming embroiled in a row with a Liverpool supporter on the social networking site in May. Responding to a provocative message, Rooney offered to put sam_oldham_LFC “asleep within ten seconds” if he appeared at Manchester United’s training ground. Wazza smoothed things over by tweeting: “Ha ha bit of banter and people go nuts chill all people,” while a PR spokesperson was wheeled out to say that there was no prospect of an actual fight taking place.