Having played in elite European leagues since before the turn of the century, what sort of impact do you think social media such as Twitter has had on the life of a professional football?
Mikael Silvestre: I think if you look at the news, you can see itís been causing more troubles than benefits for the players themselves. I believe itís good for the clubs and the sponsors but for the players? Itís not so good.
You hear about players tweeting from the dressing rooms and giving out information such as formations and tactics, and itís not good. They need to keep these kinds of things to themselves.
TS: You mention confidential information being given away by players, there. Have you ever run into players doing that in one of your dressing rooms?
MS: There was only one occasion where Iíve been around it myself. At Werder Bremen, a young player (who shall remain anonymous) shared his feelings about being left out by the manager, who was Thomas Schaaf. Two minutes later, the manager had been told about the issue and he was never a part of the squad again.
Itís dangerous because if youíre angry, those arenít the kinds of things you need to be sharing with the world. Itís stupid!
TS: So, what is it that drew you to join Twitter, personally?
MS: Well, I only joined Twitter earlier this year after I left Werder Bremen, and I mainly came on to promote my rum business. I think it can work well with factors such as business and such, but you canít get too personal.
Iíll talk about certain games that I may be watching or comment on certain matters but I try not to get personal because anyone can see your tweets. The thing with the internet now is that once itís gone, itís gone! You canít take anything back.
TS: You also use Twitter to promote a childrenís charity that you work with called Schools For Hope. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?
MS: Schools For Hope is focused towards improving education in less economically developed countries, contributing through fundraising as well as our own input. This year, weíve been able to put 25 kids into education in Guinea. Theyíre now attending boarding school every day, which Iím sure wouldnít have been possible without the organizationís help.
TS: The issue of playerís wages in football and whether or not theyíre paid too much is something that pops up from time to time. There are obviously plenty of footballers that do a lot for their own communities and elsewhere, but from your experience, do you think charity work is something that some players could do with becoming more involved in?
MS: Well, I think in England, the players definitely do a lot but we donít always have the time to do as much as some would perhaps like. Youíre right in thinking that more can always be done, but I think England in particular are very active when it comes to charitable work. For example, Manchester United does a lot of work with UNICEF (The United Nations Childrenís Fund) and the players are doing well.
TS: Youíve played under quite a few managers in your career, one of whom being Arsene Wenger, who is known for his strict regulations on players. Do you think a manager needs to stay on top of the relations his players have with social media or is that sense of freedom more important?
MS: You have to allow players to have their own freedom, but only as long as it doesnít affect the club, its image, or its spirit. I think players need to remember to be respectful for the team, who are their employers at the end of the day. Sometimes, players can get into trouble because they are young and they donít totally understand the way of doing things. Saying that, Ashley Cole isnít that young!
TS: You mention someone like Ashley Cole, who is one of numerous English players to get in trouble over social media of late, do you think players in England get a bad wrap or are they genuinely more mischievous?
MS: Yes, it looks like it. I think it has a lot to do with the press, who has limited access to the players in the Premier League. Iíve been to France, Iíve been to Italy and Iíve been to Germany. In all those leagues, the press follows you. You can park your car at the training ground in Germany and then you have to stop and talk to them. Because itís like this, they donít look so much for whatís being said in social media.
TS: So, would you say the English media strive to pick out certain flaws in their players because they donít have that kind of access?
MS: Well, I remember during the Euros, there were two or three pages in a newspaper full of just what players had been tweeting. I canít remember what paper it was but they seemed to put a big emphasis on the more private aspect. In England, the journalists are not fed the same amount of information and they need to write stories every day! As a result, they look a little more closely at whatís going on with the social media. I know that with Manchester United and with Arsenal, the press is at the club during the week but youíll still find stories that you wouldnít have known about come the weekend. They have to dig.