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In Defence Of Wojciech Szczesny…

Following Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny’s Twitter gaff, we look at the use of the social media site by footballers and defend the comment made by the Pole.

Wojciech Szczesny

These days it seems footballers are apologising more than they are actually playing football. Why? Well, firstly, they are men and it’s a scientific fact that men are prone to doing things which require apology (any man who’s ever been in a relationship can vouch for this). But there’s more to it.

They, footballers, seem to lack the foresight that, say, women or other non-footballing men have. They seem to be too quick-tongued. And they seem completely unaware that comments made during a televised football match or posted on the fount of knowledge that is Twitter are freely available for the entire planet to hear and scrutinise. Poor footballers. They just don’t get it.

In the same way you can tell them, take your shirt off and it’s a yellow card, and every week someone will score a goal, remove their shirt and get booked, they will keep opening their traps, keep jabbing their thumb at the shiny screen of their new smartphone (perhaps the thumb is the only part of the body they are contractually allowed to use off-pitch and thus they get a bit carried away).

Take Worcester City player Lee Smith’s thoughtful comment, posted on, surprise surprise, Twitter: “Respect to all the heroes 11/11/11 now to all the illegal *****, **** off out of are country all call of duty could become a reality – kill um.” The man clearly has no idea that Twitter itself is not a computer game that can only be seen by his xenophobic football mates (an admission Mr. Smith actually later made, to help his defence).

The above statement obviously deserves apology and footballers in general clearly need some guidelines, or perhaps to go on a short course, about how Twitter works and about what is acceptable in society in the early 21st century. But where must the line be drawn? Does everything deserve an apology?

This week Wojciech Szczesny, the Arsenal goalkeeper, has apologised for making the following comment about a photo of teammate Aaron Ramsey taken during a golf event:

“I don’t wanna be rude mate but you look like a rapist on that picture.”

Now it is a safe bet that Szczesny was told to apologise, because that’s usually the way it goes. Footballer says something daft/offensive. People complain. Someone has a quiet word. The question is: Is there really anything wrong with what Szczesny wrote?

Let’s just step back and analyse what he actually said. He said, “I don’t wanna be rude… but you look like a rapist in that picture.” You look like. He is making a comparison in appearance between a person in a photograph and a type of criminal. Yes, a vile one, the worst sort, the type that get it first from the other inmates, but what really needs to be apologised for?

If Wojciech Szczesny thinks that Aaron Ramsey looks like a rapist, does it thus imply that he thinks rapists are hilarious, a bit of fun? Is that what everyone who reads his comment will assume he thinks? If Szczesny must apologise for this, are all comparisons of this sort off limits? Are we barred from suggesting that the Millennium dome looks like a used diaphragm with a dozen cocktails sticks jabbed in it? Are we not allowed to simply say that something we have seen look likes something ghastly?!

Comedians use adult material in similie and metaphor all the time (Frankie Boyle?) and those that don’t enjoy their jokes or find them funny have the option of switching off. There is one thing that comedians like Frankie Boyle would never have to apologise for: kicking a football on their day off.

What’s your take on Szczesny’s Twitter-Gate? Leave your comments below…

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