IT’S easy to believe that the relationship between sport and social media has gone badly wrong when you hear the recent rumours about Lionel Messi and Barcelona.
The world’s greatest footballer was claimed to have been the victim of a Twitter campaign to bring him down a peg or two, orchestrated by his own club – a suggestion believable enough for Barcelona to issue a denial that they had hired a company to undermine their biggest star.
Wales’ own footballing royalty, Gareth Bale, has 18 million Twitter followers and a further 43 million on Instagram. Combined, that’s almost the entire population of the UK.
Not bad for when it comes to promoting his own commercial interests, but when the boot is on the other foot – as it was over last year’s “Wales, golf, Madrid” row – then high numbers can mean abuse on an industrial scale.
So, is it all bad for Welsh sports stars, clubs, fans, and anyone else who steps off the playing field and into the unprotected minefield of social media?