You’ve ruined it. All of you.
During the last ten days, I have watched various football-related stories ‘break’ on everyone’s new favourite news-stream. Watching Sky Sports News lag around forty-five minutes behind Twitter at the best of times on transfer deadline day confirmed that we don’t need Georgie any more. We don’t even need Jim White. Regional journalists, club spokespeople, even better-informed-than-average fans will tell us all we need to know, seconds after it happens, right in the palms of our hands, on a twenty-four hour basis. What a glorious age of technology in which we reside.
It was going so well. Then something strange occurred. The intelligence-devoid bubbles of idiocy rose to the top of our news fountain more than ever before. The journalists, the oracles we all follow to consume our nuggets of round-ball-related information in real time, dared to give an opinion on what was going on in their field of expertise. Greeting these opinions were not well-informed arguments from the Twitter-dwelling public. Greeting these opinions, and in some cases facts, were abuse, hatred and vitriol on quite an astounding level.
Let us begin on a relatively inoffensive level. Ian Prior, Sports Editor at The Guardian, had the gusto to say a ‘big, and I mean big’ exclusive was to break in three hours time on his newspaper’s website. In the midst of the transfer window, this news sent us all into meltdown. Has Fergie retired? Has Torres walked out? Has Ronaldo finally greased his bonnet into premature baldness? No. Inter kinda want to buy Gareth Bale in summer. So do Real Madrid. Sort of. Sigh.
Well. We were furious. How dare he not throw exclusives of earth-shaking consequences down our necks?! The abuse railed against Mr Prior. Many had a dig in a relatively good natured way. “We’re all off to subscribe to The Times” we cried at an increasingly regretful Prior. Alas, the idiot parade soon arrived at the party. The “UNFOLLOW PRIOR” campaign followed. The comments section of the story in question swiftly filled with hate, many going beyond the usual ‘f**k off’s to extend to threats against Mr Prior himself. All for posting a rather vague-transfer story on his own site in a transfer window full of vague transfer stories.
Dan Levene, writer for the Chronicle newspapers in West London, might suggest Ian Prior got fairly lucky. You could say Prior may have been the author of his own small social-media downfall by building up hype for his own personal and professional gain, only to see it backfire. Levene, however, just happened to be caught in the middle (well, the blue side of the middle) during an actual real, bona fide transfer between two clubs that don’t really like each other when the dregs of Twitter leeched themselves to his personal feed.
Now, let us be clear for a second. Levene did, after taking days of abuse from more than a few Liverpool supporters for suggesting that Fernando Torres would actually move to Stamford Bridge, make a joke focusing on an age-old ‘Scouse stereotype’. “I’m trending in Liverpool.” he said. “I hope I locked the house before leaving home!”. Offensive to some, amusing to others, think of it what you will. Levene himself would, probably, take back what was a flippant Twitter comment if he knew what was coming. What followed was a volley of abuse delving into the ridiculous and sickening. Threats of assault, death, sexual assault of his wife, the lot. Tony Barret, Merseyside correspondent of The Times, and no doubt himself the receiver of some harsh words during his time, spread Levene’s account to his followers, stoking the fires, whilst ingeniously calling Levene a “knobhead”. Maybe that could be the type of wordplay hidden behind the sturdy Murdoch paywall…
There were not so many death threats for Matt Law of the Daily Express when he suggested here that Cesc Fabregas, as many have stated in the last week, is a focus of criticism for his behaviour towards officials in recent times. Law’s piece is not an opinion article, merely a mix of facts and conjecture from others based around Fabregas’ behaviour. In fact, the article mainly focuses on words from the Arsenal captain himself, posted on Arsenal’s very own website.
You can probably write the rest by now. Law was accused of running a ‘witch-hunt’ against Fabregas. He only posted such an article because Fabregas wasn’t English, some suggested, despite Law posted a mirroring article regarding Wayne Rooney’s behaviour not six months previous. Some other witty soul simply posted ‘moron’ at him over and over, until Law (probably) threw his Blackberry on the floor of a Starbucks and went off to kick Gunnersaurus in the unmentionables.
The common denominator between most ridiculous overreactions leveled at journalists for, well, being journalists is this: the overreactions all come from fans of football clubs, angry at words thrown against their football clubs. There’s no rhyme or reason, no logic; just idiotic tribal behaviour descending into violence of both a verbal and, more worryingly, a physically threatening nature. The worst part of it all is, these buffoons who threaten the honour of a journalist’s wife for making a silly jibe that’s been made umpteen times on BBC3 previously actually all bother to waste their time in subscribing to these people in which they abuse. How utterly deplorable has our football public become when, not only do they stoop to such lows, but actively seek out and follow these people in hope they might upset them, just so they can release the dogs?
Twitter has become a wonderful place for football fans. Never before have supporters been able to immerse themselves in the presence of so many experts and learn so much from so many different plains of football knowledge. Maybe we have been spoilt for too long, and such is human nature, we want more, and what we receive must be perfect in line with our own views. However, a continuation of such rabid vitriol against those who attempt to provide us with an inside view of the game will only end this relationship altogether, and we shall miss it when it’s gone. Back to Jim White it is…