Twitter might not be harmless fun for players

August 6, 2009

The days when the details of transfer negotiations were closely guarded secrets could be coming to an end with the advent of the ‘Twitter transfer’.

On Wednesday, U.S. national team striker Jozy Altidore all but announced a move to English Premier League Hull City on the micro-blogging site, keeping his fans updated while Hull remained silent.

Altidore, who is owned by Spanish club Villarreal, alerted followers to a potential move on Tuesday when he informed them he would be up early on Wednesday morning for a flight to England.

After details about his flight and weather on arrival he held back from announcing the deal but gave the game away by posting info of his first game.

“First match is against Chelsea subject to a work permit *wink* *wink* lol thanks for the support and love keep it coming,” he wrote.

While Altidore’s upbeat updates are unlikely to upset anyone, England striker Darren Bent apologised to Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy last month about comments on Twitter relating to his move to Sunderland.

Bent aimed an expletive at Levy and said, “Do I wanna go Hull City? NO. Do I wanna go Stoke? NO. Do I wanna go Sunderland? YES.”

The forward’s wish was finally granted on Wednesday when he completed a move from Spurs to Sunderland for an initial fee of 10 million pounds ($16.98 million).

There was not a tweet out of Bent, though: his account was closed down after the dispute with Spurs.

Twitter appears harmless fun for many, many sportspeople — golfers, tennis players, cyclists, NBA and NFL players — who send snippets of their daily routine out to their followers. The problem, as the Bent case shows, comes when things aren’t going well for the individual.

There is a potential minefield involved with sportspeople broadcasting their thoughts at will — contract negotiations, dressing room disputes, personal problems are all topics that team and PR people would probably hope do not get broadcast to the world.

Those sportspeople using Twitter — and there are thousands of them — seem to regard it is a cool and easy way to keep in touch with their fans. So how can the control-freaks control other than to ban Twitter use? And that’s not going to happen, is it?

PHOTO: Jozy Altidore of the U.S. celebrates after scoring a goal during their Confederations Cup semi-final soccer match against Spain at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein June 24, 2009. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

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