How the rise of Social Media disrupted the world of Football

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Is our addiction towards following the sport more on Social Media than in person slowly killing the spirit of football?
"MySpace, Friendster, they both died. But the paved the way for other social media tripe like Facebook and Twitter to completely overrun the planet." - Bertram Gilfoyle, Silicon Valley (5x07)

Quoting Martin Starr's character from the HBO show Silicon Valley in context to a football based analysis if the probably the last thing a sane human would like to do, but the witty character often portrays harsh realities in between punch lines. Social media has been a pivotal part of the modern society and it has literally shaped the modern lifestyle. When something as herculean and gargantuan as the footballing world is concerned, it is very difficult to stay out of the reach of the forever expanding social media circle. The sport has followed the trend of marketing and growing via the social media in the 21st century.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Football runs deep within our blood and culture.

What is the core issue?

Popularity based-contest such as the Player of the Year award and fan awards are only the tip of the icebergs when social media's role in the Beautiful Game is concerned. Like any other trending topic, massive platforms such as Facebook and Twitter serve as a foundation for rumours and speculations. When one spark breaks out on the internet, it sets in motion a chain of subsequent sparks that combines to form a chain reaction.

Social Media and Money

Not just news and popularity, social media has also helped shape the economy of the sport. While it serves as a platform for the official threads to publicise and advertise their contents, it also is a platform for illegal streaming and betting. With the massive amount of money flowing in and out of everything related to the sport, the internet has cemented itself as a important cog in the whole system.

Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting
FIFA Executive Committee Meeting

Is social media altering the way we watch our favourite teams?

Another sector where the digitization of football has brought about a 'revolution' is the way people perceive and follow the game. Social networks undoubtedly provide an unbiased and just stage for debate and discussion regarding our favorite teams and players, it has massively changed the way people 'follow' the sport. In olden times, on-field performances were the only things that mattered to the fans, but with the advent of digital technology, fans have a much closer view on the player's action and reactions. Much of the traffic online in the footballing sector is diverted towards conspiracy theories, fake news and hatred towards other clubs. While most of these threads don't provide any useful or legit information, they happen to collect massive user bases, taking the focus away from the field and towards the dressing room.

Vasco da Gama v Flamengo - Brasileirao Series A 2017
Social Media is a leading source of spreading hatred and promoting conspiracies against opponent teams

Players and Social Networks

It goes without saying that the players too are massively influenced by media. A thread that starts as a click-bait often ends up on the front pages of newspapers, that millions read daily. We often tend to forget that footballers are not far away from the world outside the field, they are very much a part of it, and our media reports and speculations do leave a lasting impression on their minds, potentially affecting their performances at the end. Eventually what matters in the world of sport is performance, quality performances that fans get to witness week in and week out, but the rise of social networks has sadly driven us far away from the core beauty of the game and more into what might be happening behind the scenes.

What next?

The advantages of the inter-relations between sport and technology can't be overlooked for even once, but if technology manages to intertwine itself so deep into the sporting philosophy that it is impossible to remove, it will kill the beauty of the Beautiful Game. About time that we focus more on what we see on the tele than what we read on the browser?

Edited by Clancy Hughes