A club’s biggest asset probably are its fans. The people, who throng the stadiums, support the team even when they’re not doing well and in the current scenario, buy the clubs’ ridiculously expensive merchandise despite the financial crisis in most countries. These fans do it because it’s their hometown club, they have some sort of attachment to the club, they relate to the club in some way, they admire the clubs’ history, they like the way the club plays its football and many other possible reasons.
With change of times, these football clubs have taken to social media to increase their merchandise sales, reach out to fans for information, as a form of online journalism etc. Almost all top level clubs have an official Facebook and/or Twitter presence where they update news, information, pictures, and minute by minute updates amongst other content strategies. The main focus and primary measurement tool for these accounts are the number of likes and followers that they have. In most cases it’s dependant on the size of the club rather than the work done by the clubs’ social media team.
Real Madrid, for example, has 21 million Facebook likes and more than 2.5 million followers on Twitter. They have done well to cover the senior side and sometimes (barely) give a mention to the Basketball team but have done a woeful job when it comes to covering Real Madrid Castilla. Our youth setup would get no mention, no pictures, no updates and not even an article on the official website! All this while we’ve produced magnificent talent through our youth setup and continue to do so.
With the official Real Madrid account not doing anything to cover our youth sides, some Madridistas decided to publish information through their Twitter account without any help from the club or the journalists. They would get the information from various sources, put in their hard work and be trust worthy sources of information for our Canteranos. It wasn’t just restricted to Castilla but also to Real Madrid C and the Benjamin sides. One of them – Jaime King, used to tweet under the name @LaFabrica bearing the Real Madrid logo. He was made to change his Twitter handle and display picture or be taken to court. My simple question, why can’t the club let the guy do what he’s doing better than them? Ofcourse, if the matter is indeed taken to court then Real Madrid with its might and power will win over a “fan”.
A few months later, having changed his name and display picture, Jaime would continue to do the good job that he was doing – providing updates during a game, news and information, upcoming games etc. This time the club didn’t take any action against him or anyone for that matter but attacked all accounts covering La Fabrica by calling them FAKE and on the 8th November announcing a new account meant just for La Fabrica.
I would have understood if the club would have called these accounts as unofficial, which would have been true but why the need to call every other account as “FAKE” when in fact, they’re doing a much better job than what they are!
Seeing this as a step too far – Jaime decided to stop tweeting about the Canteranos COMPLETELY. I understand his decision but as a fan, I wish he would reconsider. He along with the girls at Furia Valkyria and RealMadridCastilla Live are doing an amazing job to cover the Canteranos (they’re a must follow, if you aren’t following already).
I had the opportunity to talk to the girls from Furia Valkyria about the decision and their love for the club and the youth setup. They plan to continue working on the blog and the Twitter account as much as they can.
The problem’s not so much with them calling us “unoficial” (which we are) as with them calling us “fakes”. “Fake” implies a will to supplant an identity, and that’s never been our purpose. What we’ve all been doing is sharing information with the public about a section of the club that’s been widely ignored: what should be their work, if you want, only they weren’t doing it. We don’t make a profit from this, and we don’t have any special access to the information. We’re just doing it because we love the club and its cantera, and we’re not the only ones.
And about Jamie, well, it’s quite clear that he’s always been singled out, and that it looks like a personal feud. But even leaving that aside, the way the club’s handled his particular case has been cowardly and just plain sad. They have the footballers themselves at hand, the means to acquire information, the bigger broadcasting opportunities. They could’ve just opened the account and (finally) done their job, leaving the rest of us in peace, but they had to make Jamie close his as if he was some kind of threat to them. What we get from this is that they don’t like the competition, but instead of trying to win the people over with quality, they’re forcing themselves onto them. I’m willing to bet the fans won’t like that, though.
Thankfully, they’ve not been contacted by the club just yet or been under any threat for that matter.
We’ve never had any kind of contact with people from club, nor do we know anyone from inside. It’s just us, being merrily ignored (at least for now).
Even though the Jaime has been threatened to be sued, the girls are determined to continue and have no reason (yet) to worry.
We’ll continue our work as we’ve always done it. As I’ve said before, we’ve never been contacted (nor threatened with suing) by the club, so we’ve got no reason no change our ways. Hoping it stays like that.
I wish to thank Naru, Mer, Ela and Val from the team for answering the questions and sincerely hope they continue to do what they love without any threats.
At this point, I would like to question the club and its policies towards its fans on social networks. Will they continue to use their might against their own fans? Why was Jaime singled out when, to be honest, many of us have display pictures bearing the clubs’ escudo?
P.S. This is not a personal jibe towards anyone and wish that this is maintained.