Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Footballers should stay off Twitter

Hibernian's Leigh Griffiths celebrates scoring the winning goal in extra time during the Scottish Cup Semi Final at Hampden Park but the Hibs hot-shot is one of a number of players who have found themselves in hot water because of Twitter

Privacy in everyday life has now, unfortunately, virtually evaporated due to the emergence of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The scrutiny of people's lives is more in depth than ever which, in turn, means individuals in privileged positions, like footballers, have to be very careful when it comes to what they say and do.

To me it's just an over extension of fans forums where supporters discuss the goings on at their club.

In theory, these sites should be very good because players and managers can connect with their fans but I have to say some of the abuse that is aimed at individuals makes me wonder if it's all worthwhile.

I feel it gives an opportunity for cowardly people, I'll not call them supporters, to criticise football players freely behind a username if they don't like their performance or particular aspects of their life.

Like most troublesome situations in life it's the minority who spoil things for the majority and, for this reason alone, I've NEVER been interested in public debate via a computer.

For a start you don't know who you're in discussion with or if they are who they say they are.

Many footballers can be insecure individuals despite their public image and body language.

A lot of them just want to be told how good they are and what a great player they are so, for that reason alone, I can't fathom out why they want to get involved in such sites.

People line up to criticise and goad them into an argument and in the end does it really matter, as long as they're happy and their manager is happy. Surely that's the important thing.

I feel it gives everyone and anyone an option to have an opinion on them and no matter how mentally tough or thick-skinned they are it will affect them one way or the other.

Some football fans feel they have a right to know what's happening with a player off the pitch because he plays for their club, or they have a season ticket, but surely everyone is entitled to a private life.

The culture of young footballers, in particular, has vastly changed since I became a professional footballer in 1994.

I feel the work ethic and desire to actually become a footballer has waned for budding stars and distractions from aforementioned sites haven't helped either.

Only recently Kyle Hutton, the Rangers midfielder, innocently "tweeted" he was sitting in his house on an afternoon watching a DVD box set which didn't go down well with club supporters.

The general feeling is that footballers don't work enough hours or at least should be working harder on various aspects of their game.

My take on it is players shouldn't give people the opportunity to criticise or question their profession; they should stick to the old traits of hard work, dedication and let their football do the talking.

Hibernian striker Leigh Griffiths has been embroiled in disagreements with individuals and has been accused of racism while online.

Neil Lennon criticised a referee on Twitter and, subsequently, got pulled up in front of the SFA and St Johnstone striker Gregory Tade was racially abused back in January 2012 in a sickening tirade. It really makes you wonder what people's motives are and what they really want from footballers.

There's been enough instances now to show that players' social media is more of a distraction and a hindrance than a help.

There are enough obstacles and challenges to being a footballer nowadays, my advice would be don't go looking for any more, focus on your football.

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