There’s little doubting that social media has made a major impact on how fans consume their football news. The growth of sites, mainly Twitter, has broken down the boundaries between reporters and the fans, with stories now often exposed and picked up before newspapers can even fire up the printers, let alone get their back pages into the greasy palms of football enthusiasts.
This of course has its pit falls, with being first over the line an issue. Supporters now crave the news they want to hear almost as much as the oxygen they’re breathing, so sometimes there are mix-ups and dead ends in pursuit of instantaneous reporting.
Take for example the Pep Guardiola to Manchester City rumour, brought out into the domain via Twitter recently. A verified BeIN SPORTS account cracked this bombshell of a story, and within hours – translation issues saw it slip somewhat under the radar initially – some of the biggest websites and outlets are were picking up on this golden nugget.
عـــــــاجـــــــل – مصادر لـ beIN SPORTS: مانشستر سيتي يتوصل إلى اتفاق مبدئي مع غوارديولا مدرب بايرن ميونيخ لتدريب الفريق الموسم المقبل
— beINSPORTS الإخبارية (@beINSPORTS_news) May 9, 2015
For any of you not fluent in the native tongue of this tweet, I’m certainly not, here’s the translation: “Urgent – sources beIN SPORTS: Manchester City reached a tentative agreement with Guardiola, the Bayern Munich coach, to train the team for next season.”
One of the biggest managers going to one of England’s biggest clubs. This has to be reported. However, despite the blue tick of credibility, it has since emerged that, although perhaps not completely untrue – we may never know if there has been contact – some of the claims were a little… out there!
Sky Sports’ Guillem Balague – who’s pretty clued up when it comes to football – dismissed the claims as soon as he accessed his smartphone, and Guardiola later rebuffed suggestions (1).
Pure imagination and fiction this story that Guardiola has agreed to sign for City. Not true at all!!
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) May 9, 2015
However, but this point the gate was being closed after the horse had bolted, with fans everywhere talking about next season with the Spanish tactician at the helm.
The whole episode got me thinking of a story I’d heard a little while ago, in the days before Twitter, from a well-respected former sports journalist. I’ll keep the names of the characters involved a secret, but it shows that reporting on the transfer window has always been akin to a game of Minesweeper. One quiet day around the festive period a phone call was received from a local reporter asking for a little scoop to run with, and what with the writer in question having a sharp sense of humour, he sent out a great little joke. At the time Kiki Musampa was performing well for Manchester City, so the ‘story’ came to light that a Premier League club were after his brother, Chris. Chris, however, does not exist, and when read phonetically the yuletide gag hits home (Christmas hamper…). However, said ‘journo’ ran with it, with comical results.
So has social media really cast the hullaballoo of football transfers with a cloak of mistrust? Not at all! In fact, it’s now easier to get the facts, with Balague’s actions showing that the truth can be put out in the public domain quickly. It’s a minefield out there, but the right accounts and channels are opening the cavern for us all, even if we don’t believe it just yet.
(1) – http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/pep-guardiola-reacts-manchester-city-9230755