Social Media

Social media is changing the way athletes, clubs and fans are interacting with each other. No longer are fans queuing to have the rare encounter with their idol, with the introduction of the Internet and social media, fan interaction is easier than ever! Because of the webosphere we are not only just watching, fans can get instant news, insights, commentary straight from the source.

Singaporean commentator Walter Lim describes sports and social media as a match made in heaven, he says “the instantaneous, intimate and interactive nature of social and mobile technologies make them perfect platforms to fuel our sporting desires”.

The incorporation of social media into sport is showing our deep descent into a future culture, now more than ever has social media and the internet given the sporting industry a Segway to maximise their reach to fans.

A prime example of this is renowned English Premier League Club, Manchester United. Man United are known for ‘flexing’ their ‘social media muscles’, social media has become one of their key tools in the marketing department. Manchester United are one of the most followed football clubs in the Premier League, fans of the red devils are said to make up 30% of all premier league followers. Meanwhile, the club has been accounted for more than 40% of fan engagement in 2017.

Social media is being used as a tool for marketing, fan impression and also merchandising. 2016 was a big year for signings at Manchester United; one, in particular, was the five-year deal of Paul Pogba. Rather than addressing the media the traditional way in a press conference, Man United took to social media to break the news to the world.

On Tuesday the 9thof August at 12.35am the news broke loose at emerged the hashtag #POGBACK that signified his reunion with the club that sold him in 2012. Red Devils were sent into a frenzy over the new signing, but this was not the only way the news broke the Internet.

Social media can maximise reach to their followers, Pobga, Adidas and Manchester United are a match made in heaven. The club and the brand went hand in hand to unveil a music video performed by artist Stormzy.

The video quickly went viral and within the first week, it reached more than 3million views. The video represented a fusion of music, lifestyle, rap and sport – which some can is the perfect reflection of Paul Pogba. But this is only one example; currently, Paul Pobga on Instagram alone has 22.8 million followers, Manchester United can offer any sponsorship this much reach each time the athlete posts a picture wearing their product.

Pobga signed to the club for £89 million, however, shortly after Man United signed renowned Swedish player Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer. It was rumoured that Zlatan’s jersey sales alone had paid for Pogba’s transfer fee.

These are only some examples to exhibit how much of an impact social media is having on the sporting industry. Sporting clubs now are thinking beyond the realm of social media and are exploring digital innovations; apps like the Manchester United application or the NBA app on smartphones are changing the game. Brands and clubs are branching out to maximise fan engagement in the next generation.

Sport is progressing further towards cyberculture. How we know, communicate and engage has all turned to digital technology. As previously stated the sporting industry has invested in social media in order to engage fans and attract the newer generations. However, the relationship between social media, fans and athletes proves not to always be as efficient and positive.

With heightened fan engagement and surveillance, social media creates an easy opportunity for athletes to go viral as a result of their actions or words. As a result of this athletes are heavily surveilled by governing bodies to avoid public humiliation and outrage. An example of this is Paul Pogba, in March of this year he released a photo of his latest haircut, as some described it resembling a ‘peacock’. Fans expressed outrage by Pogba’s ‘antics’ on social media, urging the football star to clean up his act.

There are further countless amounts of ‘accidental’ posts by athletes on Twitter:


Furthermore, while social media has now become a key tool in marketing for athletes, associations and brands we can see social media as an ever-evolving platform for fans and the next upcoming generation. In order to maintain its success and efficiency, player profiles must continue to be patrolled to avoid miscommunication, embarrassment and potential harm.

With all the success and branding from social media, will athletes and their clubs take an extra step for precaution and surveillance?

The NRL to make finals history with the games first pair of female referees.

The NRL has announced the league’s commitment to bring more gender equality to the game with the introduction of female referees.

While 2017 has seen more women commentating and reporting on the game, the industry said Australia will see female referees on the field from round 26 this year.

However, referees boss Tony Archer failed to give them the cut to referee the main games this weekend. The decision is set to shake up the ‘boys-only’ stigma the NRL holds.

Renowned NRL referee Bill Harrigan supported the decision, encouraging a fair go for ladies who met the standard for professional NRL refereeing.

“I’m deadset against tokenism and I’d never appoint a referee just because she’s a woman. But the whole squad knows that she has earnt it,” the legend told the Daily Telegraph.

While female referees Belinda Sleeman and Kasey Badger have demonstrated their ability this season refereeing the Holden Cup and NRL touch games, these women are ready to set foot in the rugby league finals round.

The upcoming rounds not only mark the finals football for the year, but also a stepping-stone for female referees. Sleeman and Badger have been selected as touch judges for the opening week of the finals.

Badger will be waving the flag in Friday night’s showdown between the Roosters and Broncos at Allianz Stadium. Sleeman will man the line in Saturdays clash for a sudden-death final between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Penrith Panthers.

Archer recognises the significant contribution ladies like Sleeman and Badger are making to the game and the quality of refereeing.

“They are not part of the women’s program – they are simply part of our overall emerging referees squad,” Archer said.

With the referee’s big boss in high spirits, the finals rounds will have these women in the spotlight to not only welcome the NRL finals, but a bench mark in the NRL referee history.