10 ways that social media like AFTV has impacted football – For better or worse?

The other day a friend sent me a video. It was a clip of AFTV doing a watchalong of the Wolves game.
When we scored our second goal one of the fans (who has always claimed he has no agenda and is not influenced by the camera) ‘celebrated’ – not by high fiving or hugging the friends around him. In fact, he didn’t even smile.

Instead, in clearly a planned action, he just glared down the screen, nodding his head, raising his eyebrow, like he had proven the doubters wrong. Of course, that notion is not true as most times this season, we have done the opposite of silencing our critics. Yet it’s cringing to think that a man in his thirties is acting like he’s part of what happens on the pitch. He hadn’t proved anything to anyone. His opinion has no bearing on the result of a football match.

I was then baffled at what he did next. He proceeded to push people out of the way (two who were taking the knee to respect BLM) so he could have all the screen time. He turned around and pointed to what was written on the back of his shirt.

Yes, he was showing the number 9, the digit of Lacazette who had just scored, but above was not the surname of our striker but of the supporter himself.

You know how you might look in the garden and your child is acting like he really is playing at Wembley with the whole Arsenal kit on? What age would you expect that to end?

Now this isn’t an attack on the channel. Like me or you, they have the freedom to do whatever they want to. They make a lot of money doing what they do so good luck to them.

I don’t know if that was a sign of his YouTube celebrity getting to his head, or he’s now acting a certain way to get attention instead of actually watching the game naturally? Good luck to him either way, I’m only mentioning it, so you understand what inspired this article. My friend messaged ‘genuine?’

I responded by saying that as someone who’s been to the Emirates many times, I can’t remember anyone around me who responds to what was a crucial goal, by looking angrily into a camera, then pointing to his own name). My mate then pointed out ‘YouTube generation’. He’s correct. Yet it got me thinking, not just YouTube but how has social media and the internet changed the game? For better or worse?

I grew up watching my team win titles and was overjoyed. Now, it’s about who puts out the cleverest tweet.

I was heartbroken watching the Gunners so near and yet so far from winning the Champions League. That night in Paris, we were gutted – yet proud of the efforts of 10 men. If that happened in 2020, some (not all) would want to say the most swear words and shout the loudest in the hope their interview garnered views.

Here are 10 ways that social media impacted Football…

10 – Fans Have A Voice
This is the ethos of most fan channels. No, they are not doing this for the money, they are doing this because fans don’t have a voice apparently.

Growing up you had to rely on newspapers and pundits like Andy Gray to tell you what was right and wrong. Now supporters have various ways to share their opinions – such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.

It means clubs can no longer pretend that everything is as rosy, as their customers have high profile platforms to show their frustrations (some have exploited this opportunity and gone over the top).

Not just in sport but the rise of social media has seen the media industry take a hit. Why pay 1.00 pound to read Oliver Holt’s viewpoint, when for free you can have a debate with others online?

9 World Interaction
For many years now, other countries have seen the value of the Premiership as a brand and have paid millions so it’s content can be watched around the world.

Yet you no longer need a pricey TV package to get content. There are now (legally or illegally) numerous ways to, with a click of a button, watch games live (even some of the most random domestic Leagues).

I don’t feel sorry for the likes of Sky and BT as they have taken advantage with apps that allow their coverage to be available on laptops, phones, tablets, etc. Their fear will be the popularity of streaming services, with Amazon over Christmas testing what kind of audience they would attract.

Fans also can interact with each other from across the globe (which was the intention when the likes of Facebook were launched). As a resident in the UK, I can’t relate what it’s like being a Gooner outside of England who maybe doesn’t have a network of friends who share their passion. I would imagine if you’re abroad, you now feel yourself as a more involved part of the fanbase?

Yes, you could always stay up late and watch the match, but now you can share your opinions and views with fellow gunners. For example, right here on Just Arsenal we have readers from all over the world who can have their voices heard.

8- Made The Game Richer
I mentioned it’s hurt the sales of papers (although they have their own website versions), and maybe the credibility of pundits whose views are now challenged, but social media has made football richer in many ways. Clubs look at their followers on social media and will digest them with their shareholders.

Who cares where you finish when millions in Asia have subscribed to your in-house Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? Being able to share content around the globe within seconds will only increase your brand worldwide, which in turns increases your advertising and sponsorship deals.

The likes of Ronaldo and Messi make as much money from trending as many times as they do than their basic salary.

I already mentioned the likes of Netflix and Disney flirting with the idea of bidding for Premiership rights. How do you think Sky and BT will stop their rivals? They will have to pay a record contract, worth billions, for 20 clubs to share to stop them from even thinking about a Man United launching their own channel. As we saw during lockdown, owners were desperate to get football resumed because TV has become such a huge revenue stream.

7- Content
Is it too much content? That’s your own personal opinion. I know some who watch every game possible and others who feel less is more. Yet take away the fact that you can watch 5-6 live games every weekend if you have Sky and BT, social media means you can watch, listen and talk about the game every minute of every day if you wish.

Most companies who cover the sport have some kind of podcast or YouTube channel, where of course you can pick when you want to listen. Forget companies, anyone can stream content.

YouTube of course (not just football) allows you to watch previous games and moments if you’re feeling nostalgic. If your over 30, you will understand that it was once possible to get to Match of The Day without knowing any scores.

That’s how we spent Saturdays, the news would tell you to look away if you didn’t want to know anything, your friends and family knew it was an unwritten rule, don’t give away the score. Now the BBC don’t even bother, as it’s assumed by 10.30 that their viewers know exactly what they are going to see. It’s not impossible to avoid the scores in 2020, but it would mean not going online or checking your phone all day.

6- Made Careers
I have been critical of what AFTV have become but I’m not critical of the original idea. Whether it’s a fan channel, podcasting or blogging, anyone who can make a living doing something they love, good luck to them. I would never begrudge that, and you have to be quite sad if that bothers you.

In a perfect world, society should be set up where an individual should have a chance to train and learn whatever field they choose. The facts are they go beyond football or social media. Some don’t have thousands to get a degree in Journalism, so good on them for finding another way to chase their dream.

5 Changed The Fan Base
Arsenal used to pride themselves on doing things the ‘Arsenal way’, now we have become a laughingstock for how fickle we have become.

Think about the reaction Arteta was getting after the Brighton loss, then compare when we won at Wolves. When I was growing up and we lost, sure you would debate it in the school playground or with your older brothers, but I never remember turning on players and managers so quickly? We had more faith because in sport you won or lost, there was no need to find a reason and stress about it.

That’s not criticising the younger generation, it’s not their fault. They are growing up where you get what you want within seconds. Food, clothes, music …. it’s all a click away. So, when you have been taught that you don’t have to wait, you then have the inability to understand the thrill of the chase.

If your team fails, there has to be a reason. Either this player is not good enough, the manager should be sacked, etc. Suddenly we are all experts because we have been given a license to display our opinions every second of the day, no matter if it makes sense (what am I doing now?).

My best friend to this very day used to sit in class with me and debate why Heskey (he’s a Liverpool fan) was better than Henry. That’s because mostly if someone wore your colours you supported them. Loyalty now only exists if you want your star man to sign a new contract.

A Gooner born today will grow up being taught that swearing on YouTube and verbally abusing your own player is not just normality but now expected of you. I referred to the CL Final earlier. In 2020 our keeper would get verbal abuse for getting sent off. Henry would be called all kind of names for not taking those chances.

It’s sad.

If you don’t believe me, remember what Mr Wenger said the week before the Cup Final: ‘I will never forget the disrespect form certain fans’. He warned us we were in danger of losing our values and he’s been proven right.

4 Changes How Clubs Are Run
Most owners are successful businessmen or women. Don’t get me wrong you don’t become a millionaire without trusting your own decisions and giving in to public opinion. Yet there are numerous examples where the rise in social media has put pressure on clubs to make decisions. Take Arsene Wenger as the classic example.

In the first half of his reign, the backlash would be exclusive to the terraces and whatever the media wanted to print. In that sense an employer could protect their manager, as shareholders didn’t have a lot of information to go off. Today, instead of crowd interaction every weekend it’s daily.

You could argue Mr Wenger actually got more of a backlash away from the stadium. Fans became famous for verbally abusing the greatest manager in our history. Social media would help arrange protests and advertise banners, etc.

The greatest boss in our history, instead of being helped when he fell over at a train station, was filmed on phones as others laughed and mocked him. Again, the danger of losing our values.

3 Transfer Market
Kind of following on from point 4, where you used to just sit and wait for the club to sign someone, now there is daily pressure to do business once the transfer market opens.

Fan Channels and even Sky Sports quickly noticed the opportunity to make the market an event in itself to get more views. All they are actually doing is repeating what they read in the morning papers, followed by reaction to it.

Managers, owners and players have to hear rumours everyday, with some fans going as far as tracking planes or reading a wife’s Instagram to find out what a target might be doing at that precise moment. As already mentioned, there is so much content that everyone is an expert.

We hear a link and demand to know why he hasn’t signed, even though (if we are honest) some of us have never seen that player actually kick a ball. Some think checking out a quick compilation on YouTube counts.

2 Betting
It’s funny to me how morally conflicted some get by the idea of a betting company providing any kind of advertisement to a club. Betting companies themselves tick a box by ensuring they run adverts warning about the danger of gambling while they agreed not to air commercials pre-match.

The irony though is they have never made more money because of the rise of social media (and not just in football). Gone are the days when you physically had to walk into your local branch. Like most things, you can gain access with a click of button in the comfort of your own home. This has led to debates that it will turn many into addicts, as they might view online gambling as spending invisible money. You don’t even now have to deposit cash. How some apps work is you click an icon on your phone, live odds flash, hit a button and bet is submitted.

1- Players Mentality
A topic that the world is getting better at is discussing depression, and getting people aware that it’s an illness. Still though the game and social needs to do more to protect players from abuse.
Both the Premiership, Twitter and Facebook earn enough money to have a zero tolerance on inappropriate behaviour. They say the right things, and once a year your see players forced to wear some kind of shirt, but actions speak louder than words.

Sanctions still take too long, or are too weak to the point that many suffer in silence.

Too many fans live in this bubble where they think football has its own world where we can say what we want without any consequence. Grown men and women will come out with language they wouldn’t dare use any other time or in other situations.

Fans are growing up watching Youtubers call Ozil the C word without being challenged. That is okay because he earns too much and/or is not good at his job? Just think about that…

Mustafi spoke about the effect that trolls have had on him mentally.

Xhaka reached breaking point when he faced vile messages daily. These include wishing his baby died and his wife getting cancer. From his own fans? Wow. Then some have the nerve to ask Auba to be loyal and sign a contract like Ozil’s. Just to turn on him if he’s not playing well in two years.. .

Nothing has to be wrong to get depression. Yet being in the public eye can be stressful. There is pressure being a sports person without having to read certain things online.

What do you think are the pros and cons of social media? Has it made football better or worse?

Be kind in the comments

Dan Smith


  1. I’m a dinosaur. I don’t do Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and don’t use You Tube for football in any meaningful way.

    I still support Arsenal to the hilt, but there is no doubt for me, that I preferred the good old days of my past. I look at my Sky sports app and take a newspaper several times a week and can most certainly live without wannabees on YouTube who seemingly just want to whip up their form of righteous and crude indignation with the easy, cheap celebrity that it brings. It brings a lack of respect for one’s fellow man and woman

    Just Arsenal, which I have only been following for a few months gives a voice to everyone . Mostly it is constructive, sometimes it is unkind due to frustration; letting off of steam when the team do badly. In the heat of the moment I wrote that Luiz should never wear an Arsenal shirt again. Some say he still shouldn’t but we all react to a situation, blow our tops, and then, calm down again. We all have our own opinions on X player and Y manager and on JA it invariably involves the same 2 people so the heat rises. It is the Marmite effect.

    The trouble is, as you say, Messi & Ronaldo earn absolute fortunes, in fact at least as much from their social media posts and advertising as they do from their contracts.

    My problem is that the players themselves have to work out whether the extra money they are making is worth the insults that go with it. Their contracts at Arsenal have already made them multi millionaires so why put themselves through such hatred? The bullies are faceless but can cause untold misery. They are just little people, with dubious mentality, fueling hate because they can. Sad.

    Picking up on the Wenger departure and the influence of social media ganging up on him, I am sorry that his dedication to the club ended in the manner it did. There was dissatisfaction at the route Arsenal were taking and fans have a habit of letting the owners down to the players know. It didn’t have to sink to the level it did. For Xhaka to have his family brought into their dissatisfaction with him, also beggars belief.

    Arsenal didn’t have to put out that cheeky twitter post about Tottenham. I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt us tomorrow.

      1. And also the part in the Brighton game they all said that the performance was poor which it was. But the same players they criticised they have held their hands up and admitted that it was not right. And if I remember correctly it was Lee Gunner only who was sort of Arteta out. But that guy is just negative. U have misjudged a lot of things in this article. Also when your team scores such a crucial goal it is natural to celebrate like crazy. In such a race where every goal matters how can u keep your emotions in. Seriously. Seems more like someone just doesn’t like AFTV

  2. Seen clips of the AFTV guys watching our last game. The reactions from all of them were over the top, except Robbie who seemed to be into the game instead of being overly aware of how he looks on camera. I watched as the chubbyish white guy who wears a hat and looks like he listens to hip hop, jumped up demonstrating with his aggressive and angry face ..for all of 5 seconds before plopping back down and whipping out his phone … then type, type, type, type, chillaxed as you like. I thought it was very prattish looking, him esp, by the way they were so aware of the camera and acting OTT in a childish tantrum.

    1. Going by the comments so far, everyone thinks this is an article about AFTV, IT IS NOT! This is about the full impact of social media on Arsenal fans, but (like AFTV themselves) you only have to mention them and an argument starts in the room.

  3. Dan, points 5 and 1 link into each other like a jigsaw puzzle – a minority of fans believe that, because they pay to watch someone play a game of football, they can abuse that person, his family and anyone who disagrees with him.

    I watched part of the AFTV broadcast and it was so obvious, to me at least, theses guys think they are important.
    I do take Robbie out of that statement, as he looked completely bemused by the antics of the others.

    I have no issues whatsoever with AFTV and what Robbie has created, it’s just a different way of discussing our club. Simply not my cup of tea, as I grew out of the need to swear and act like I was important – getting old helps one overcome the need to prove anything.

    Our fanbase has changed so much on the last ten /fifteen years, with the biggest differences being the lack of tolerance, the lack of thirst for knowledge regarding our club’s history and the need to put someone in to a certain pigeon hole… either for or against.

    The latter point has been the most devisive of all, as can be witnessed by the AKB and AOB ridiculous labels, or the way one is described as a fanboy – I find these type of labels as repugnant as those silly antics witnessed in the AFTV comedy sketch.

    What it does, is stifle sensible debate and, for some, a complete turn off with regards to putting their own point of view forward.
    One can be middle of the road and still strongly believe in their views, as those on the left or right hand side of the argument.

    Enjoyed the article once again – hope that doesn’t pigeon hole me as one of your fanboys!!! 🙄

  4. Spot on Ken, majority of young fans think Arsenal started when we moved to the Emirates. Know nothing about our history but I don’t think it bothers them

    1. Likewise Kenny, the article about whether one believes in the theory about referees being biased or cheating.

      The attempt was made in that article to group fans as being on the AFTV view or not- trying to make it one side against the other.

      I feel sorry that fans can only see for or against, there has always been a middle road, but try as one may, it seems that view is not acceptable.

      Dan always gives a viewpoint that is never confrontational and/or tries to cast others as “villains “, that is why I so enjoy his articles.

      Regarding The Arsenal literature, Kenny, I have just counted how many books I have in our club, from it’s beginnings, to pre ordering Le Profs upcoming autobiography… no need to say how many, but that is where I get my information from and I must have read each one at least three times each.
      It’s a drug, but what a wonderful way to become obsessed with something!!!!

  5. Good question Dan, when I was a kid, before computers and iPhones, any information you got was either from books, newspapers or older peoples stories, I feel now that anybody can bring up records, stats, information at the click of a button and through this method they seem to think it make them experts. There’s several on this site, no names but I’m sure they know who they are. Give me the old days when you had to search for information, real fans, passion and love for the club.

  6. Funny how you say “be kind in the comments” when you write baseless articles formed not from facts but a figment of your imagination. Yes there are times you write impressive articles too (credit where it’s due) but some times you write articles like you just took one of lacazette’s balloons to be candid. I stopped reading when I saw what u said about how a fan celebrated the second goal. First of, it is not your business how he chooses to celebrate. Secondly, it’s his shirt, he can write any thing he likes on it. He’s not going to be the first or the last to do so and third and finally, you need to quit your pettiness when it comes to all things AFTV Dan Smith. Did you interview for a job with them and they turned you down? Get over it already man. With or without AFTV, fans will always be emotional, vocal and expressive about the club they support. Real Madrid fans are one of the most violent and expressive fan base in the world and I don’t think they needed to have a platform like AFTV to be the way they are. You need to understand that people are just people. Most people on here do not follow or watch AFTV but when they’re not happy about what’s going on, they are very expressive. Bless Pat and Martin for censoring words used on here otherwise we would have seen far worse curse words used than anyone ever said on AFTV.

    1. So aftv can critique arsenal but don’t dare do same 2 them?
      By your logic have they been refused a job at Arsenal?
      Did Mr Wenger not sign their autograph book ?
      If you read rest of article I praise them as well
      If your saying don’t judge watch alongs don’t put in public platform

      1. They are not Arsenal football club Dan. They are just a fan TV, that has nothing whatsoever to do with the club as an organisation. Your analogy makes no sense whatsoever. Can I criticise you for not going to the stadium to watch An arsenal match, I can’t because it’s none of my business if u do or not. But if you work for Arsenal fc which I support and part of my money is vested in seeing you do your job (that u get paid for) from the money I as a fan pay, then I have every right to criticise u because then you answer to me. I don’t know why that is so hard for you to understand Dan.

          1. Yes I agree Pat but sometimes in the heat of the moment, alot of people say things they do not mean because they’ve been hurt. It’s a basic human nature and it takes self control for you not to lose it. I see the faces of some of these fans on Aftv and I see pure passion. I for example on the day we lost to Brighton, I was instantly depressed. I couldn’t eat. Imagine if someone had brought a mic and camera to my face at that moment and asked me to review the game, I cannot exactly predict what I’m going to say. I may use words that I would later regret but at that moment I would be really mad. Seeing some of these guys on Aftv makes me feel there are people who feel exactly how I feel and can relate to my emotional state of mind. Crossing the line is going to meet the players on their social media page or anywhere face to face and cursing or threatening them. Try to not censor anyone in the comments after a bad game once and see how many curse words would be used on here by people who don’t even follow Aftv
            But I’m happy with the standards you’ve set for this site, it helps us keep our wild emotions in check.

  7. This sounds like a lot of “old man yelling at cloud” does it not? People were over-celebrating before social media existed. Hooliganism (which is MUCH worse than this mild complaint) predates social media by a longshot and is much more of a problem. Being annoyed by a video isn’t a realproblem. This just reads as general complaints about social media, which is going nowhere, and is a part of society that older ppl just need to accept. Opinions and personalities you may or may not like get more of a platform. That’s just the reality and nature of the internet. Not shocked Ozil once again is inserted in this article either. Kids play violent video games, watch violent movies, listen to music with curse words. A Youtube video of some random yelling about football is hardly a concern. This just comes off as an attack on AFTV because the people dont behave and have opinions that you like. I commend Robbie for allowing people to have a voice with little censorship. This is coming from someone who has barely watched it recently too. As for player pressure, part of the game. British newspapers can be even more hostile. Overcoming pressure is part of being a sportsperson.

    1. I am an older person and do find the norm of today harder to accept. Everything is in your face; 24 hour rolling news etc. However, I am prepared to take on board your post and recognise that what I found acceptable as a teenager/young adult would have mortified my parents back then. Time does move on.

      I just don’t enjoy the intensity of disagreement or the verbal aggression. This means I am an old fart now and in all probability you will be one day too. I think it is part of the passage of life

  8. Dan, a truly excellent article and a sad one ,as it shows in graphic and well described detail, how the game has lost its moral compass, It shows how society has lost its moral compass and football as ever merely reflects society. The main problem is that young people demand instant gratification and know no differently. The material world we live in has created moral prisoners of countless billions world wide and the love of obscene and unearned money has eroded almost all that once made our sport wholesome and vital. It is a cesspit and this pit has been steadily increasing since the Prem began in 1992.

    THE MONEY MEN WHO HAVE STOLEN OUR GREAT SPORT AND TURNED IT INTO A FILTHY AND MATERIAL WORSHIPPING BUSINESS , HAVE RUINED THE SPORT . Almost all morals around the business and admin of the sport are dead or close to dead. It is , apart from the actual game itself in the 90 odd minutes, something I hate and I even dislike my own self for watching and supporting the game at all.

    I realise and have done for many years past, that I am living in a fools paradise in hoping that the game will regain the lost soul and morality it once had. I do not mean the actual match, as that has always been a mans game with tough men, idlers(though only in recent years) and all in between those extremes. and much else that makes the game itself exciting. But all that immoral and disgusting filth that surrounds the game is repulsive to me and I suggest to countless others who have stopped watching and supporting football. Money is not the root of all evil but the love of obscene amounts of money andof the the lifestyle it can bring, is harmful at best and evil at worst. That is my sad but honest opinion.

    I am a deep thinker and a self analyst and will be honest in saying I feel a fish out of water among such filth and HOPE I can summon up the mental strength to overcome my lifelong football addiction and spend my remaining years, whether long or short, doing something more wholesome and worthwhile. Sad beyond belief to write this but at any price I WILL ALWAYS BE HONEST TO MYSELF AND TO OTHERS. Sigh!

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