Vavel writer Alex Mitton believes that football would be more appreciated without social media, and that fans have evolved over the last decade.
Social media has it’s benefits and its downfalls in football, it has allowed the sport to grow in popularity, make more money and give fans much more inside access and news than before the turn of the century. However, there is also the negative side, whereby players can suffer abuse, discrimination, as well as the fans that can also have negative experiences through social media.
“People would be able to appreciate football more if they didn’t care what people thought on social media. But obviously, social media brings so much commercially, the amount of revenue it brings, it’s made more money for football, it’s made the quality better, it’s put more money to the clubs.“
Social media may portray large groups of fans to be rebelling against their clubs ownership, however in the stadium you see that it tends to only be a small minority of fans, which Mitton believes shows just how different social media is to reality.
“People like to be controversial, just for the sake of clicks, you would never get any of this stuff 15/20 years ago, nowadays people want to be followed by everyone.“
People tend to take it too far on social media, there’s criticism and there’s abuse, but most players nowadays are quite good at ignoring it, however the issue is, if they do look at it, it has a big effect, and can not only impact how they perform in future games, but can also negatively impact their mental health.
“Obviously, you get less abuse, the lower the league, but then you’re not used to it as much. I spoke to Cambridge United goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov last week, he said, he just he ignores that and he kind of likes getting abused, because it just makes him work harder, it fires him up to just beat them.“
Social media companies need to work with the clubs so that those people who send abuse online can’t get into matches, essentially, given a stadium ban, however in reality, that’s not really possible, and it would take years for anything to kind of come into place.
“In a perfect world you want like an AI that can detect abuse, and then you can ban it. Probably not possible, because obviously, you’re always going to get the odd random example where it’s not actually abuse, but I think they just need to take reports more seriously. Because most of the time, if you have a report account, nothing happens.“
Social media can vary over different levels of football due to popularity, and the impact it can have for both players and fans can be immense.
“There’s no doubt you’ve got to be cautious, but then, in the top leagues, most players will have a media manager who will pretty much do it for them.
“For the lower league clubs, they’re less likely to have media managers, and from the replies, there’s probably about 10, or 15 that can vary.
“At that level, how things dealt with in certain scenarios, it’s obviously different when you’ve got a whole team behind you.“