Former US President Lyndon B Johnson once declared that it is better to have one’s would-be antagonists “inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in”. The FA seems to be adopting the Johnson doctrine in its approach to social networks in women’s football, by actively encouraging eight of the sport’s star players to use Twitter, in an attempt to drive support, exert influence on the social-media phenomenon and – most importantly – cultivate leadership.
In forthcoming games, reports the Guardian, the eight players will be wearing their Twitter aliases on their shirts. The FA is hoping that these “digital ambassadors” could follow on the heels of the USA v Japan Women’s World Cup final which set a tweets per second record, the paper reports.
From the managerial viewpoint of the FA, it’s a clever pre-emptive strike: the body has clearly lost control of the phenomenon in the men’s game, where players regularly get into twitter-based arguments with each other and the general public, question refereeing decisions and – in the case of Joey Barton, at least – appear to be well on the way to seizing the mantle of Zany Visionary from David Icke with a succession of increasingly gnomic comments.
Recent tweets by the digital ambassadors, though, include this one from Chelsea star Claire Rafferty: “Off to channel 4 now to do a bit in the news. Everyone tune in at 7pm and check it out #supportiursport @FAWSL @Channel4News @C4Insider”
The tweet is clearly trying to drum up support for the game, suggesting that the FA may be starting to get some results out of the initiative.
While the FA may have made a good move here, don’t expect anything similar to happen trying to tackle the tweets in the men game – that unruly behaviour has left the terraces and is well on the way to starting a virtual pitch invasion. Any attempt by the Wembley mandarins to stop it could start a digital riot.
Management ups and downs
Mercedes’ F1 team overlord Brawn is not only confident that his team’s controversial car design is legal, he also believes it will so hard to copy that – if it is deemed to be OK by the rule book – his team will maintain the advantage it gives them for a significant portion of the season.
Mario earns the dishonour of being the first player, rather than manager, in the Relegation section for being declared unmanageable by two leading football coaches. After his red card over the Easter break, Man City manager Roberto Mancini said that the eccentric striker had played his last game for the Blues.