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 pitch..pic.twitter.com/ZmYh3TIswq!!

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”.

Finally AC Milan in Brussels

I had been  waiting that for a very long time.I have been away from Italy for over 8 years and have been waiting so keenly to see AC Milan coming to whatever country I might have been to. It finally happened on last 21 November when the Rossoneri played at the Constant Stock Stadium in Brussels against Anderlecht. I had great tickets for which I have to thank one of my dearest friends from my home village, Masa. By the way, you should listen to his music, he’s a terrific guy!

The first half was quite boring with Anderlecht having 2 clear opportunities to score while AC recorded most ball possession but with no real dangers to Anderlecht’s defense. The second half was a completely different story. Young talent El Sharaawi scores after 100 seconds. After that Mexes will score the most spectacular goals of this year’s competition and probably the best goal of his career. A bycicle kick out of the box that goes straight into the “sette” leaving Silvio Proto astonished.

The game re-opened after De Sutter set the score to 1-2 with the Belgians down one man following Nuytinck’s red card. The Bruxellois  needed a win to keep hoping for qualification and gave it all. This created more spaces for some very spectacular 10 minutes were newly entered Pato scored an easy 1 -3 at the 91st minute.

Thanks AC for the show!