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Why we should be extra careful with what we say online

Social media, for the most part has been a groundbreaking invention that has allowed people across the world to interact from the comfort of their own homes.

We are able to communicate with friends, family and anyone else through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and before their declines, myspace and Messenger.

But in the eyes of some, the use of social media has allowed those to express feelings and thoughts in a negative manner. And in the world of sport, there’s usually someone or something on the receiving end of this ‘abuse’.

Quite frankly, it’s downright disgusting.

To hide behind a keyboard and post things you wouldn’t say to or someone if they were standing right in front of you is a true act of cowardice. And deservedly, it’s universally condemned.

But it’s easy to take this perspective when you’re fortunate enough to not be the subject of online abuse and vitriol.

For those who play sport at a professional level and for clubs with significant fan bases, it can be quite scary to read things that people around the world say about you.

With the stakes they play for being so high, any level of failure is met with a knee-jerk reaction by those online. And with such easy access to the aforementioned platforms, it’s hard for professional athletes to see the bright side.

Some athletes do see the bright side, knowing that what’s said online rarely translates to what’s said in real life. A great example of this is through the popular TV segment, Mean Tweets.

Hosted by late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, high profile people are made to read derogatory tweets directed at them, with most of them expressing laughter at the stupidity of what’s said.

Here’s a couple of examples of the segment.

But then there’s the other side of the equation, those who do get affected by what people say.

Often, these comments left online can be quite upsetting and sometimes, those on the receiving end don’t take it well. And despite there being those who can cop the abuse, some have different perspectives.

These comments, whether they’re made online or from the stands, are dragging the game of soccer down and it’s a real shame.

Back in 2017, Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren played a poor game against Tottenham Hotspur in a 4-1 loss. Following the game, Lovren’s family members were threatened purely based on his performance.

You could be the most soulless person on this planet and still find that kind of comment disgraceful.

Briefly on Tottenham, left-back Danny Rose was diagnosed with depression in 2018. He seems to have put it behind him after becoming a first team regular for Tottenham this season.

Granted, Rose has admitted that injuries played a part in his depression during a BBC video that went online this year (can be found below in full), but it goes to show something.

We may see them as these worldwide superstars who can do anything. But in reality, they’re just like us.

Human.

Some may think that these comments don’t have any affect, but they do.

Mental health is one of the biggest problems surrounding soccer players and athletes around the globe because people think that they can say anything and get away with it.

They say these things for numerous reasons. Their performances on the field, as we know. It can be down to their appearance and personality (see above video for Peter Crouch). But there’s one other factor.

The fact that most of these players are millionaires.

Footballers get paid lots of money and there is a select group that think because of this, they should never be sad in their lives. Purely because they’re a bit wealthier than most folk.

To rebut these opinions, there is only one thing that needs to be said.

Money can’t buy happiness.

So before you send that tweet, Facebook post or whatever it is, put yourselves in their shoes.

How would you feel seeing someone say that about you? Because in life, you should only treat people the way you want to be treated.

And it’s time that we stamp the abuse out, whether it’s racism, sexism or general oppression. Because whatever it is, it has no place in sport or in life. Anywhere.

 

 

Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

Ronaldo’s Manchester United return breaks social media records

With the summer transfer window complete for clubs across Europe, Cristiano Ronaldo re-joins Manchester United following 12 years away in a true homecoming moment for the Premier League side.

A household name, Ronaldo’s exceptional career has seen him return to a club that played a major part in his development towards becoming one of the greatest players we’ve seen.

Arriving from Sporting Lisbon in 2003, Ronaldo was a club-record signing for Manchester United at the time for a teenager in English football, and he certainly disappoint, netting 84 goals from 196 appearances.

His time in the game is most famously for La Liga’s Real Madrid, where in the 2009-2018 period he dominated with 311 goals from 292 games, and most recently spent the previous few seasons with Serie A’s Juventus showing no signs of slowing down in his veteran years by scoring 81 times from 98 appearances. Ronaldo’s lengthy international career dates back to his Manchester United debut year of 2003, with 179 caps and 109 goals to his name.

When you add his long list of trophies and accomplishments notably as a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, five-time Champions League winner, four-time FIFA Club World Cup winner, three-time Premier League champion, two-time Best FIFA Men’s Player and 2018 European Championship WInner it’s easy to see why he’s held in such high esteem and widely regarded as one of the greats of the sport.

It should come as no surprise to see the level of engagement on social media when the transfer was confirmed by Manchester United. There was a staggering number of people liking and sharing the huge summer transfer window move, as discovered by Global Head of Social Media at Manchester United, Nick Speakman.

He confirmed that Manchester United’s ‘Welcome home Cristiano Ronaldo’ posts for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all reached uncharted territory, setting new records across each of the three prominent platforms. The upcoming figures have already grown from when Speakman updated, with Ronaldo having a significant impact even off the pitch.

Instagram’s 12.3m likes & 537k comments makes it the most liked Instagram post from a sports team, Twitter’s 1.9m likes & 850k retweets makes it the most liked Twitter post from a sports team, while Facebook’s 1.3m likes & 161k comments makes it the club’s most liked Facebook post.

“It’s often said that “nothing can surprise you” when working within sports. However, unexpectedly being presented with the opportunity, and arguably privilege, of announcing Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Manchester United after 12 years away from the club is a rare exception to the rule,” Speakman said.

“24 hours later, the announcement post has surpassed even our own predictions for social numbers cross-platform.”

It marked Manchester United’s biggest ever day for social interactions, which can extend further to other Ronaldo-related posts as the hype continues for a potential return in Manchester United colours at Old Trafford against Newcastle United in Round 4 of the Premier League, following the upcoming international break.

What will a National Second Tier mean for the NPL?

As the concept of a National Second Tier becomes a reality in Australia, there are questions on what the removal of the biggest clubs will mean for the State League competitions.

Football Australia are still discussing and workshopping the format of the concept, and how it operates and coexists with the National Premier Leagues (NPL) is one of the biggest questions.

When the NPL was created in 2013, the aim was to standardise the State League competitions across Australia and serve as a second tier to the A-League. The competition has been the top division in each state outside the A-League, with the winners playing off against each other at the end of the season.

The NPL hasn’t managed to bridge the gap between the State League clubs and the A-League, shown by the push for a true National Second Tier.

We know that the current NPL clubs would jump at the chance to join a National Second Tier, however, what would this mean for the State Leagues moving forward?

There is certainly commercial value to having South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights play off in the Victorian State League. Without the traditional powerhouse clubs in there, the Victorian NPL would struggle to attract sponsors and fans that drive the clubs, allowing them to perform at a semi-professional level.

Determining what the value of the NPL is without traditional clubs is a question that will be asked across every state competition if a National Second Tier drags them away.

Football Australia has previously floated a Champions League-style competition idea, with 32 teams competing in a group stage format followed by a knockout stage.

The allure of this concept is to reduce the cost of travel and the financial burden on the clubs at the league’s inception while allowing the clubs to continue to play in their respective state NPL competitions.

However, this is a stop-gap solution to get the competition off the ground, with the intention of easing into the transition from semi-professional into a fully professional second tier with promotion and relegation down the track.

There are certainly positives to this structure. Using the Champions League-style format to get the competition off the ground and running before evolving into a traditional league format could be the best way for a National Second Tier to launch.

The reality is that the first few years in a National Second Tier will be difficult for the clubs if the competition is a complete home and away league featuring at least 18 games. It is a distinct possibility clubs will fold, or flee back to the relative safety of their state competitions.

This isn’t a reason not to proceed with the competition, however, it is a danger that the clubs must recognise. To alleviate this danger, clubs can play in their state competitions while featuring in a parallel Champions League-style competition.

Some of the NPL’s biggest clubs would prefer a traditional style home and away season. South Melbourne President Nick Maikousis outlined in an interview with Soccerscene that a National Second Tier could mean some of the biggest clubs depart the State Leagues.

“We don’t agree that a Champions League-style competition is a National Second Division. Our views are that it needs to be a stand-alone competition. The challenge for the state federations is potentially losing some of their biggest member clubs,” Maikousis said.

“If you take South Melbourne, Melbourne Knights, and Heidelberg out of the NPL Victoria competition, it becomes a different conversation.”

He also pointed out that reluctance to lose these clubs from their respective state leagues by some stakeholders is similar to arguments raised against the formation of the National Soccer League in the 1970s.

Fears of losing the State League’s biggest clubs aren’t new. At the NSL’s inception in 1977, the Victorian Premier League forbid its clubs from joining the new competition. Mooroolbark SC, an unremarkable Eastern Suburbs club, broke the deadlock, paving the way for South Melbourne, Heidelberg and Footscray just to follow in their footsteps.

Mooroolbark unfortunately found themselves relegated out of the NSL in their only year in the competition, before ending up in the provisional league at the bottom of the football pyramid by the 1980s.

Eventually, any national second tier competition must become a stand-alone league if Australian football is to have a proper pyramid of competitions featuring promotion and relegation. The state NPL competitions will lose their biggest clubs to this, but it creates opportunities for other clubs to forge ahead and take their place.

Australian football needs to be brave in its attempt to create something that will outlast us all. Countries like England, Spain, and Italy have built their football not only on heritage, but also a deep talent pool developed playing in the leagues below their top division.

Promotion and relegation must be the end game for football if it’s to reach its full potential in Australia. For a club to climb from State League 5 to the A-League, from amateur to professional, is the ultimate expression of the beautiful game.

The state leagues will survive losing their biggest clubs, like they did at the NSL’s inception. The question is what value these competitions still have without their biggest assets.

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