DreamSetGo, a bespoke sports travel and experiences platform that has a partnership with Premier League club Manchester City, hosted an event in Mumbai on 15 April, 2022 which featured former midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips.
On the sidelines of the event, Campaign India caught up with Wright-Phillips to learn how footballers deal with social media trolling, how companies need to take charge to stop it, his favourite football-related advertisement, and more…
Social media trolling
Every bad performance from an athlete is followed by sections of ‘supporters’ using social media to spread hate or troll him/her.
A recent example of the same is cricketer Daniel Sams. Sams received hate on social media after a recent IPL match in which he conceded 35 runs.
He took to Twitter to address this. His tweet read:
With respect, win or lose is the part of the game. I accept that last night my performance was not good, I’m responsible for the defeat. But criticisms, on my personal life is not good. Lots of Indian people sending me abusing messages on Twitter and Instagram. Please stop this. (sic)
Since then, the account he used to tweet this, has been deactivated.
According to Wright-Phillips, this hate has to be controlled if not stopped completely.
He explained, “It's about whether those people upstairs will put the time and effort to prevent it. We, as players, don't expect to get abuse or the kind of hate we get on social media.”
On the subject, he added that hate is one of the perils of having an open account on social media.
“Once you open your social media up, you're opening a line and a pathway for people you don't know to do that to you,” he said.
While it’s a major concern for Wright-Phillips, social media hate didn’t bother him much.
“I'm not much of a social media person. I just post and go. I engage with some fans. If there's anything negative, then good luck to that person. I just ignore it. I grew up in a bad area, and was brought up with the thought - sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. I focus on my family, and if they are happy, I am happy.”
The former midfielder stated that the world of football has changed immensely in the past two decades, for brand endorsements.
He partnered with Adidas for his football boots throughout his career because he felt they were comfortable. With regards to other sponsorship deals, he stated that there were not too many options during his career.
“Back in the day football wasn't as commercial as it is right now. Now everyone's getting the deals. Times have changed and the way football has evolved, endorsements have too. It wasn't as simple as a thousand offers on the table to pick from,” he said.
A common notion in the world of sports is that the form of players could get affected by too many brand endorsements.
Rubbishing this thought, he said, “There are ups and downs in any job, and sadly that’s what it is. Form is based on whether you're having a good time or a bad time. It's as simple as that.”
Favourite football-related ad
Responding to a question about his favourite football-related advertisement, Phillips picked a Nike ad from yesteryear.
“The Joga Bonita Brazil airport ad tops the list for me. It was always cool to see.”