Connor Southwell: Why are City stars deserting social media?

PUBLISHED: 17:26 21 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:30 21 November 2019

Marco Stiepermann has deleted his Instagram Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Marco Stiepermann has deleted his Instagram Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Marco Stiepermann and Emi Buendia appear to have opted to take a break from social media, with some City fans querying whether criticism directed towards the pair is behind the decision. Connor Southwell looks at how professional football operates in the online space.

Canaries midfielder Emi Buendia has opted to come off Instagram Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdCanaries midfielder Emi Buendia has opted to come off Instagram Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Being a professional footballer in 2019 isn't merely about performance on the pitch, with the need for a social media presence more pertinent than ever.

For all its pitfalls, the various platforms utilised by numerous operators across the globe can be places in which supporters are given an opportunity to interact with their heroes.

It can also allow those seeking a yellow and green fix from afar the ability to feel closer to their team.

With 35pc of UK football supporters reportedly on Twitter to follow their team, footballers are more contactable than ever. Charities can be exposed to a mass following and a club's messaging is now fed directly to its fan base.

Yet, despite the positives of these online habitats, there lurk some who opt to use their keyboard as a weapon to unleash scathing, often personal, attacks.

Contemporary society is a place where social media is entrenched. Within clubs, educational sessions take place as to how to manage the vitriol that can arrive due to a public presence.

Which, given the news that two Norwich City players have deleted their Instagram accounts, creates an interesting connection between footballers' use of social media and the way in which supporters can interact with them.

Emi Buendia and Marco Stiepermann were both active on the platform, but have both recently deleted their accounts.

Last season, Instagram was a tool that allowed supporters to witness post-match celebrations in the dressing room after victories and gave them a seat on a coach as the players travelled to away games.

All supporters will be familiar with the diplomatic posts posted by players after a loss, with the need to encourage positivity and display grace for the level of support received.

After all, football is the people's game and those who are talented and fortunate enough to wear the badge of clubs supported by thousands undoubtedly feel the burden of expectation.

In a game awash with cash, there's a perception that translates into an unbreakable mould that allows anybody to hide behind a screen and vent into the abyss of social media, but what's forgotten is that those on the receiving end are human and the effect of it can be profound.

Stories of those suffering with mental health whilst playing their job have emerged, with social media a contributing factor in many of those candid conversations.

In 2018, figures compiled by Sporting Chance and the PFA show that over 1,500 players have accessed mental health support services since 2013.

The passions in the sport are contrasting; the outlook often short term.

When on a running streak or successful campaign, the power of these platforms is immense to construct a togetherness that allows for momentum that extends to those in the stands.

In times of bleakness, that negativity can spread like wildfire and affect a player's psyche and drain confidence. Subconsciously, that baggage is taken onto the pitch.

Once you cross a white line, a player's every intention is positive. Nobody intends to perform poorly or make a mistake; this is merely further evidence of the humanist side of players that is forgotten once they leave the field of play.

Most subscribe to the viewpoint that parting with hard-earned cash to witness your team allows supporters to voice their opinions, but language and tone are critical to ensure criticism is constructive rather than personal.

Young footballers will be increasingly aware of social media as their careers develop, whether they reach the heights of the Premier League or not.

Opting to remove yourself from that sphere as a professional operator doesn't confirm a softness but perhaps a desire to escape the constant stream of conversation surrounding performance.

Increasingly, players' personal accounts are being managed to ensure the retention of a desired image - a mere glance at those footballers who use their platforms to construct a brand is an illustration of this.

In terms of these City operators, often a poor patch of form arrives without any change in approach or preparation.

Whether those who have left opt to return at a later day remains as yet, unknown but, for now, there will an emphasis on discovering a solution to lift the Canaries form in the Premier League.

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