Footballers and twitter don’t mix

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Ferdinand_twit Reuters Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand.

In this week's Twitter-spat news: footballer Rio Ferdinand is in lumber for LOL-ing at a tweet from a stranger in which Ashley Cole was called “a choc ice”.

Some people say “choc ice” is a low-level, snotty, racially motivated term meaning “black on the outside, white inside”. Others say – Ferdinand most vehemently – that the term has shifted meaning to a non-racial, but definitely bitchy “fake”.

Phrases shift their impetus and thrust continually. Ferdinand's actual response to the choc ice comment was: “That's classic.”

But, let's face it, Ferdinand has 3,066,607 followers and gets hundreds of messages whizzing past a minute, so I doubt he gave it much thought. Anyway, the police are investigating.

And, right now, a Twitchfork mob of random internet idiots who own computers, but have no facility to extrapolate facts, are slinging muck, hoping it sticks.

Oh, the perils of being Derbyshire's, or any police station's, resident vaguely tech-minded officer. The cyber brouhahas one must be asked to referee.

There was a great bit in BBC2's Line of Duty, where a policewoman sat scowling at a witness in the incident room, filling out reams of duplicate forms.

“Okay, let me get this straight,” she says to the witness. “The woman next door called you a slag on your Facebook wall? Yes? So you wrote on her Facebook wall that you'd kill her?”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in screenwriter Jed Mercurio's murky imagination, a gang of thugs were chopping off victims' fingers with bolt-cutters. I think Mercurio was making a subtle point about our priorities.

What I do know for certain is that “footballers” mixed with “Twitter” form a particularly virulent cocktail. The FA should probably have its own 24-hour police Twitter bureau investigating serious written abuse against its players, tracing most tweets to identical braying morons sat in their mothers' box bedrooms.

In light of the actual, proper abuse Rio Ferdinand must read about himself every day, and hear on the pitch, it's vastly ironic to see him investigated for simply hitting the reply key and saying “Classic” to a tweet he has strongly maintained was innocuous. And good luck to the investigator sorting this one out. First, looking at the exchange, Ferdinand doesn't appear to be making any reference to Ashley Cole's part in the recent John Terry case.

And keeping in mind both Cole and Ferdinand both married white women and have worked in a mainly white industry for years, it wouldn't make much sense for Ferdinand to suddenly announce in July 2012, “Yeah, Cole, you're a bit too white-friendly for me.”

Playing devil's advocate, if Rio Ferdinand was criticising Ashley Cole for being “inwardly white”, then who, officially, is supposed to be offended?

Cole himself? (He says he isn't.) Is it all people of colour? Is it all mixed race people? Is it all white people?

I hope the police point us all in the right direction of our Ferdinand-based righteous ire soon. Or, alternatively, I'll just hang around Twitter, as it'll be some other poor sod's turn in a minute. – Belfast Telegraph


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