Following Arsenal’s convincing 2-0 victory against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur over the weekend, the club’s Twitter account came under fire for a tweet directed at a Daily Mail journalist. The playful tweet was of Mesut Özil, the Man of the Match on Saturday, sipping a cup of tea à la Kermit the Frog. While the tweet was obviously not malicious in any way, the journalist took offense to the lighthearted reply.
The journalist involved, Adam Crafton, posted a reply to the tweet claiming that the Arsenal reply opened him up to abuse. “Re this: I picked a team. Arsenal won. I look a bit silly,” stated Crafton. “Congrats to Arsenal. But since they tweeted it to 12m people, I’ve had all-day harassment on here, including anti-Semitic, homophobic abuse & people wishing me dead. I can handle it but would not advise clubs repeat this.” Arsenal made a statement to Goal the following day condemning any abuse towards the journalist.
This all stems from a Daily Mail article in which the publication chose 11 different sports writers to complete a combined starting XI between the two north London rivals. Although all of the included journalists picked a majority of Spurs players in their lineups, Crafton was the only one to go with an all Spurs team.
Claiming not to be “incendiary” and basing his XI on the “form of the players on the season,” Crafton went on to chose Danny Rose at left back. The Spurs and England international has only made one Premier League appearance on the season. Also included in Crafton’s team was Toby Alderweireld and Harry Winks. The Belgium defender is currently injured, and Winks has only managed a total of five Premier League starts during the current campaign. Clearly poking a bit of fun at the Gunners with his picks, the Arsenal Twitter administrator poked back.
First and foremost, the journalist obviously did not deserve any homophobic or anti-Semitic abuse. Twitter can certainly be a very ignorant outlet at times, and the club was right in condemning the minority of fans that caused the abuse. The tweet itself, however, did not incite any abuse or violence. Whether the team’s social media account has one follower or one million followers does not change the fact that it was a lighthearted reply.
The Arsenal Twitter team are surely not the first club to post a playful tweet towards someone. Bayern Munich have perhaps the most involved high-profile Twitter account in European football, and have replied with humorous/tongue-in-cheek remarks before. With social media being as prevalent as it is now, and as teams and players become more and more popular online, these ebullient exchanges are mostly harmless and amusing.