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Chelsea’s Bertrand and Cole highlight problems with social media

Chelsea defenders Ryan Bertrand and Ashley Cole have recently fallen foul of social media's pitfalls, writes Lucas Howe

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Ashley Cole was fined £90,000 by The FA for an offensive Tweet on ThursdayPhoto: TSR

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Ashley Cole and Ryan Bertrand’s recent Twitter outbursts have been criticised by many for being too outspoken.

However, the two Chelsea defenders have also found some support for expressing their views. A debate that divides opinion, the question remains: should sport stars have their tweets censored, or should they be allowed to play on the same field as the everyman?

With footballers often being highly-charged, hot-headed characters, they can find themselves impulsively taking to social networks to express their views.

Cole for example, following the John Terry trial, took to Twitter to brand the Football Association (who are essentially his bosses) a “#BUNCHOFTW**S”. The majority castigated the England international’s action.

Cole was fined £90,000 by the FA on Thursday for his foul-mouthed rant, while Roy Hodgson took it upon himself to drop the Chelsea star for his vulgar outburst. It is also expected that Chelsea will reprimand Cole for his actions.

The 31-year-old’s understudy at Chelsea, Bertrand, followed suit in rousing a social-networking storm as he reacted angrily to claims that he withdrew himself from the England squad for the matches against San Marino and Poland due to a sore throat.

While his frustration was aimed at those accusing him of not being fully committed to the Three Lions cause, his actions still faced criticism, with his irate message featuring offensive language (although Bertrand’s grammar was probably more offensive than the tweet itself!).

Despite receiving backing from Hodgson, who claimed Bertrand’s actions were “laudable”, the young left-back has since apologised for his actions and deleted his Twitter account.

Both Bertrand and Cole have been offered support by the highly-opinionated journeyman, Rohan Ricketts.

The former Tottenham midfielder claims that these instances offer the public a representation of the “authentic footballer”, and believes that players should not have to censor themselves, saying that the same lax parameters that fans are restricted by should be equal for these high-profile stars.

This is, however, a ludicrous claim. Cole and Bertrand are both representatives for their nation, and with this comes the responsibility to act appropriately in the public domain.

Cole’s exploits would be the equivalent of any England fan blasting his superiors at work, and of course, such behaviour would be unacceptable, and more than likely, a sackable offence.

But how should these instances be avoided? For the most part, it is extremely interesting to gain an insight into how these superstars live – their Twitter stock is particularly valuable. So the premise of footballers shutting up shop and closing their Twitter accounts would not be prudent.

The agents and PR teams of these players need to take a more hands-on approach to dealing with how their clients use social media.

It would be beneficial for all parties if the agents and PR teams moderated the tweets – though not too stringently; we do not want to distort the presentation of the “authentic” footballer.

With footballers often being so highly charged, it seems irresponsible to leave high-profile stars to their own devices. Without some form of temperance, footballers and social media is a recipe for disaster.

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