THE advent of social networks like Twitter and Facebook have had a profound effect on modern-day football and footballers.

For one, these idols of ours are a lot closer to us mere mortals. Their thoughts are readily available, and we hang on every word that they say (or tweet).

Many of them interact nicely with the fans, spending their spare time doing question-and-answer sessions, or giving away a jersey for every millionth follower.

They cop a lot of abuse as well, especially from rival supporters or from a nutcase who didn’t get a “retweet” or those stalkers who missed a chance to get an autograph somewhere.

A lot of players, though, use this platform to vent their frustrations, or have a go at the powers-that-be or the authorities governing the sport. And most of the time, it’s without thinking.

A few years ago, former Liverpool forward Ryan Babel, who is also blessed with the gift of the gab, tweeted a picture of referee Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United jersey. The Dutchman was then fined and reprimanded by the English FA.

Not too long ago during the racism drama surrounding John Terry and Anton Ferdinand, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, blessed with injuries, referred to Ashley Cole as a “Choc-ice” for helping to defend Terry against his brother.

He was also subsequently fined as well.

Joey Barton, blessed with being an idiot, is a serial offender when it comes to peeving off the authorities, or irritating opposition players.

However, somebody still has to do some clinical tests on Barton so that we can check if he is legally sane.

A few weeks ago, at a Marseille press conference in France, he, well, sort of ditched his Scouse accent for what sounded like a French accent. Go search for it on YouTube, it’s as hilarious as it is disturbing.

Closer to home, Ajax Cape Town star Khama Billiat launched an attack on his teammates and management this week. Although, it must be said his text-style message on Facebook was hard to figure out. I had to import my 10-year-old niece to transcribe it. I really don’t know why people can’t just write properly these days?

Billiat vented his frustrations this week after a training ground bust-up with Matthew Booth. However, the winger was ripped into by teammate Thulani Hlatshwayo for broadcasting his troubles to the world.

A lot of former players criticised Billiat for going public with the incident, as most felt what happens on the training ground should stay on the training ground. Players would basically kill each other at training, and afterwards have a beer to heal the wounds.

In the “good old days”, there weren’t things like the internet, never mind Twitter or Facebook. So, these things are going to come out sooner rather than later.

But the current generation of players are also different. I like to call them the rock-star generation, because it’s all about them and what you can you can do for the individual.

And that is maybe what is lacking with this Ajax team at the moment. There are some good individuals, but as a team, they have been rubbish for most of the season.

The only way they are going to get out of this predicament is to stand together, and not have a go at each other on social networks. So, it’s maybe time for less tweeting and more beers after practice for the Urban Warriors. I’ll drink to that ...


@Lebza08Manyama (The Ajax midfielder rallies the troops): Its times like this a club needs to stick together to pull through. Trust me this hurts us just as much as it does 2 the fans #teamajax


@MilanoUnitedFC: The NFD newcomers are making waves this season.

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