When the trolls follow the playerPosted on

“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much”.

So said Eric Cantona at a Press Conference in 1995 following his infamous “kung fu attack” on Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons at Selhurst Park.

Cantona’s comments were treated with confusion and derision by the press at the time, however, his analogy was perfectly apt and is all the more so now. The phrase could have been invented for the Twitter age where trolls, idiots and stalkers revel in the responses they can glean from high profile Twitter users. To mis-paraphrase Cantona, high profile Tweeters should never throw sardines into the sea for those seagulls (or more pithily – don’t feed the trolls).

So, for Matthew Simmons’ charming “Fuck off back to France, you French motherfucker!” in 1995 read @prodrivetony’s “I prayed you broke your arms and legs” directed at Emmanuel Frimpong after the Arsenal player spoke of a trip to the church on his Twitter page. Rather than ignoring the troll Frimpong took the bait and unwisely (and ignorantly) responded “Scum Yid” – intended as an insult to a Spurs fan but in actual fact a highly offensive anti-Semitic slur.

Whilst @prodrivetony continues to fill his Twitter timeline with expletives and filth (and no doubt enjoyed his 15 minutes of infamy) Frimpong was charged by the FA with a breach of Rule E3. One message that all sportsmen and women have to understand is – more is expected of you than of ordinary members of the public. The rewards for life in high level sport are vast. The consequences of perceived misbehaviour are similarly serious. I am quite sure that Frimpong is most certainly not “anti-Jew” as one headline in the Sun puts it, however, rightly or wrongly, those are allegations that stick with a player.

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