Football digital diplomacy: The Elsha-Messi principle

After a devastating 4-0 defeat for AC Milan yesterday night against Barcelona, an interesting story came out of the international media. It was not about the game, where the Barca tank literally run over AC Milan’s bus, but about the allegations that, after the game, young AC talent Stephan El Shaarawy approached Leo Messi to swap t-shirts who blatantly refused the exchange. All, and I mean all, sports newspapers mentioned this “scandal”. Thousands of colourful interpretations were given to this episode, from Argentine arrogance to Barca-Milan anymosity to a small desire for vengeance after the 2-0 defeat at San Siro.

In a few hours, all allegations were shut up. How? An official press statement? A press release by the media people from both teams? The teams’ presidents explaining the accident on TV? No.

El Shaarawy from his official account simply posted a picture of Messi t-shirt saying “I’m posting this picture to clarify the t-shirt issue. Thanks Leo…A Champions inside and outside the!!

This is a great example of how digital diplomacy can bring truth to lower levels of governance. What if all world leaders had verified Twitter accounts through which you could read their real personal thoughts in real time? What if G.W. Bush, Fidel Castro, Chavez, Ahmadinejad had Twitter in the early 2000s and could just tell it the way it is. No media mediocre interpretations, allegations and manipulation. We can’t live of woulda, coulda, shoulda but in my head the picture is of a revolutionized diplomatic world.

This is the Elsha-Messi theory of diplomacy: ” If a contested episode casts doubts over the truthfulness of the alleged reasons justifying an action, a tweet by one of the contendents shall silent all possible allegations based on groundless assumptions. #respect”.

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