There is no bigger wake-up call to aspiring athletes than the one that occurs when their long hard work and high rankings fall flat upon their crushing disappointments on game day. Many will look away from their responsibility, content to see the individual stall for several days or weeks, before accepting a new direction.
Unfortunately, some footballers are willing to look away, not grasping the opportunities on social media that have put them in front of a global audience, as well as the professional opportunities that eventually follow.
Players for Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal, Manchester City and West Ham, have all caught flak in recent months, for refusing to engage on social media to discuss their respective clubs and their professional achievements.
Everton, as mentioned, have had some of the most infamous Twitter and Instagram scandals of the past few months, both by Aaron Lennon and Morgan Schneiderlin, who were rumored to have made sexually explicit tweets about another footballer or party girls.
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Even star striker Romelu Lukaku, who has always been the most lucid and passionate football personalities on social media, was stripped of the captaincy by his club for not being on Twitter or Instagram enough.
In fact, Steven Gerrard, just last week, gave a speech on why it is so important for footballers to engage, to show their emotions and personality.
Of course, it is easy to criticize these footballers, but do you really think for a second that if soccer or basketball or any other sport was growing as rapidly as social media, that these same players wouldn’t be doing the same? Footballers have been fighting for the past two decades for recognition and respect and respect and recognition comes hand in hand with following the appropriate channels when it comes to social media.
It is not their job to earn the love and appreciation of everyone, there are agents and managers out there that are willing to guide the actions of these players, but an overwhelming majority of footballers simply can’t find their voice and because of this, are still missing the opportunity to build, cultivate and propagate their own image and brand.
Success on the field doesn’t come easy and that fact is evident when looking at Rooney, Kante, Ramos, Ronaldo, Messi and Coutinho. Some have a better handle on social media than others, but no less important than Twitter and Instagram, is the ability to be on these platforms and build relationships with the fan base. Once a player has built a proper presence online, they have an elevated authority.
Players must continue to move with the times, change as necessary to maintain relevance, and if need be, change their social media handles. But if someone sticks to their guns and refuses to change their Instagram or Twitter handles for several years, it is really going to end in something that worse than previous moves, although probably not as big as last year’s social media scandals, just make sure that you have the latest mobile app.
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