The invention of Twitter has revolutionized the player/fan relationship in a way no thought possible before. It has provided a vital link between the two that has allowed the fans to see a different side of the players they watch week in week out on the pitch. Similarly it has given the players a chance to show that they are more than just footballers and that they are people too. However with everything good comes a dark side and twitter is no different. It’s the perfect platform for so called internet trolls to abuse and objectify people way beyond their standard reach. With police and Twitter struggling to work out how to monitor and prevent such abuse, many comments go unpunished. Whilst the more severe comments like racist or threatening remarks are punished, criticism of players continues uninterrupted. With most players regularly checking their twitter statuses, this criticism is seen on a regular basis and can be damaging for a players confidence. If the fans are on his back over a missed goal or a mistake in a game, there is little he can do to block out the barrage of abuse. Some, like Joey Barton give it back but most let it wash over them without retort.
But now a group of Arsenal players, with the help of Irish betting firm Paddy Power, are getting their own back with a new advertising campaign which focuses on these tweets. Inspired by The Jimmy Kimmel Show segment “Celebrities read mean tweets” which sees well known actors, musicians and politicians reading out some of the mean tweets directed at them, the Arsenal players read out the tweet about themselves and reply in the best way possible – Comedy. Up first is German defender Per Mertesacker who was the subject of a tweet from a fan that suggested that milk turned quicker than he could. In the advert, a referee is seen putting a bottle of milk into a fridge whilst Mertesacker prepares himself for a sprint and turn. The tweet is proved wrong as the giant German centre half obviously completes the task before the milk goes bad. Next up was fellow German international Lukas Podolski, who was criticized for not being able to hit a barn door. With a barn door at the ready and a collection of balls at his feet, Podolski started to shoot. His first few attempts when skywards, although it’s clear that these attempts were a dig at the tweet. Eventually he does strike the ball which clips the bar door, once again proving the tweet wrong. Finally Spanish midfielder was the subject of a tweet that suggested that the tweeter’s Nan or grandmother could hit a better penalty than he could. After a brief introduction to Nana Wilson, Arteta fired his penalty past the scrambling goalkeeper with the ease of a professional. Up next was the nana Wilson, whose lame attempt barely made it to the goal, once again proving the tweeter wrong.
All three tweets were said in jest; presumably to get a laugh from other users on Twitter but for the Arsenal players to reply in the manner that they did allowed them to get the last laugh. Twitter will continue to help to connect players and fans and allow for easy communication between the two but next time you are thinking of posting a criticizing tweet about a player, just think twice as you may end up the subject of Paddy Powers next advert.