Social media isn't rocket science, but it is a big deal
In case you missed it, Pahang ran into a little bit of trouble recently after their players posted controversial posts on Facebook. Azidan Sarudin wrote, “No gaji no training,” while Hafiz Kamal took to the social media site to say, “Janji sebelum bermula Piala Malaysia lagi tetapi sampai sekarang apa pun tiada. Jaga sikit pemain-pemain yang ada.”
The local media immediately noticed that something was wrong and investigated the matter, and soon discovered that the Malaysia Cup holders had not paid their players any salaries or bonuses. It led to the state FA getting bombarded with angry messages from their fans on social media.
While late salary payment is unacceptable in today’s football, Malaysian teams and players should have already taken social media seriously by now. Taking it seriously does not mean that one should ignore the occasional hate messages but to learn the right way to use and manage it properly.
Every player is an ambassador to his club or country, so it is their responsibility to take care of the team’s image. They have to be careful with their actions – where they go, what they do when they are outside the field, and in this new era, what they share online.
In another case, Sabah striker Rozaimi Rahman once criticised head coach Milomir Seslija on Twitter. Malaysia Under-23 head coach Ong Kim Swee immediately told him to delete those tweets because it was simply not the right way to address his disappointment towards his coach.
Of course, it is not all that bad in Malaysian football, as there are a few good examples of social media done right by local players. Take Junior Eldstal, for example. The Sarawak midfielder has really presented himself, his team and his sponsors really well on Twitter, always knowing what to say at the right time.
Nazmi Faiz is back on Twitter, too, and he is handling himself better now. I understand that he has a proper manager now to take care of his image and career, which is excellent. Harimau Muda A duo Gary Steven Robbat and D. Saarvindran also deserve honourable mentions.
Anyway, we could learn a thing or two from clubs in Europe on how to manage their players’ social media presence. When Chelsea came to Malaysia last year for a friendly with the Malaysia national team, I had a chance to speak to their social media officer. He shared that the club keep their eyes on what their players, from the senior team to the academy kids, say online.
He added that if a player says something he shouldn’t, the club will issue a warning the first time, then shut down his account the second. Chelsea are a big club with big sponsors, so it is understandable that they take social media seriously. I believe it is definitely a step forward if the same approach is applied in Malaysian football.