BROWNE ON THE BALL: Online but not always on topic

Tom Ward and Ben Milnes are among Boston United's Twitter users.
Tom Ward and Ben Milnes are among Boston United's Twitter users.

The best thing about the internet is that it gives a voice to everyone.

The worst thing about the internet is that it gives a voice to everyone.

We’re told how wonderful modern technology can be when mobile phones play their part in uprisings, such as the Arab Spring.

We’re told how awful modern technology can be when mobile phones play their part in uprisings, such as the London riots.

And then there’s football. Twitter, chatrooms and messageboards open up the debate to the whole world.

Sports journalists - who have spent years stating it is their job to take sportsmen and women to task - can now be taken to task themselves by their readers, rightfully and often brilliantly so (although many take themselves far too seriously to acknowledge the fact).

But for every fantastic idea, stat, pun or comparison that can now be forwarded around the world in an instant, there must be at least 100 idiotic comments.

The ongoing Mark Clattenberg case is a fine example.

A referee has been accused of racially abusing a player, although no outcome has been determined yet.

But instead of sensible debates, partisan and tribal comments filled the comments sections of cyber space sites.

“Disgusting man. Should be hounded out the game. He cost us the points,” wrote one Chelsea fan, missing the whole point and believing that one-man’s career and reputation should be destroyed purely because his interpretation of simulation doesn’t fit in with his agenda that weekend.

This was just one example of hundreds of mindless, clueless posts..

Then there’s Twitter. The microblogging site offers fans invaluable access to their footballing heroes (whether that’s (@IAmJermaineDefoe or @wardy_5).

A retweet from a player could make someone’s year.

But it also leaves people open to disgusting, unnecessary abuse. The vile racist taunts suffered by the likes of Stan Collymore (again purely because his opinion doesn’t suit a fan’s agenda) turn the stomach.

It also allows footballers to post misguided opinions.

Ashley Cole’s famous hashtag and Rio Ferdinand’s stupid ‘choc ice’ moment saw them both in hot water.

And then there are footballers at this level.

Take for instance Colwyn Bay’s captain Luke Denson.

After a fiery draw at York Street last season, he took to his account to write: “Boston is the worst place in england! Played in some (deleted)places but their players an fans are horrible! 1500 people and only 12 teeth” (sic – the swear word was actually included in Denson’s Tweet).

As I said, the best thing about the internet is that it gives a voice to everyone.

The worst thing about the internet is that it gives a voice to everyone.