Chelsea News: Ryan Bertrand: The Tweet Spot?

Chelsea remain a study in contrast. Good early season form has seen them top the premier league table. Off pitch incidents involving two senior pros, John Terry and Ashley Cole have hogged limelight and ensured that negativity surrounding the club has stayed. The most recent 'controversy' seems to have engulfed another Chelsea defender, Ryan Bertrand. Bertrand tweeted in anger that a 'sore throat' was hardly the reason why he had to withdraw from the England squad for the game against minnows San Marino on Friday. He explained via his tweet that his illness was certainly worse than a sore throat. 

The controversy stemmed from his use of expletives to express anger at the supposed cause for not representing his country.The Daily Mail compared his angry twitter rant to what Ashley Cole had done earlier in criticising the FA. But there is a need to make a distinction. Bertrand did not direct his anger at anyone in particular, least of all the FA. Besides, he only expressed his desire to play for England and highlighted how it would be a dream for any boy to represent his country.

This trend of chastising footballers of anything they say on twitter is a harmful one. Chelsea's John Obi Mikel already quit twitter after racist remarks were aimed at him after his sub-par performance in a match. Twitter is a personal and spontaneous mode of communication. We can update our statuses through our mobile phones anwhere and 140 characters leave little space for justification. It is hard as it is to say what we want to. 

Also, there is a point to be made that footballers should be cautious about what they say on web sites like twitter. But to generalise all twitter musings as pernicious is a naive approach. Bertrand's tweet suggested a footballer who is extremely passionate about the game and that it would require sickness far worse than a sore throat to dissuade him from representing England. Criticism for such tweets is harsh and uncalled for.

The media censure on such tweeting should be seen in a wider context. The wider context is that of de-humanising footballers. Rules that dictate that players be yellow carded for celebrating with the crowds after scoring come easily to one's mind. Mohammed Diame scored a brilliant goal against Arsenal last week but was shown a yellow card for celebrating with the card, a high price to pay for a midfielder that relies on tough tackling to assert his authority on the match. Emotions run high on the pitch during a game and it is natural for players to channel that. There is nothing wrong with sprinting over to your supporters or even taking your jersey off. Rules that prohibit and punish such behaviour are cynical and they leave no scope for footballers to express themselves. Fans would prefer 'real' footballers over robotic ones any day.

Viewed in the above context, there is absolutely no reason as to why Bertrand's tweet should be seen as anything else but a desire to express his perspective at what he considered an unjust reason for withdrawing from the England squad. To censure him from expressing himself and equating his behaviour to that of Cole is unfair on the young Englishman. Football requires changes but this is one area the administrators of the English game would do well to not focus upon. They should focus on matter of greater importance such as the introduction of goal-line technology. 

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