Bruno Fernandes missed a penalty for Manchester United, and later issued a long apology on social media. Cue an almighty row. Should he apologise for his apology?
Chloe Beresford: Hi, Iâ€™m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.
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Today, how an apology from Bruno Fernandes sparked a wave of controversy.
â€śHe missed a penaltyâ€¦ thatâ€™s about it. How many times he score? How many times he scored?â€ťSky Sports Football
Aston Villa went into last Saturdayâ€™s match with Manchester United knowing theyâ€™d not won at Old Trafford since 2009. Theyâ€™d been on the receiving end of some pretty heavy defeats away to United since then.Â
At the weekend, the clock was ticking towards full time in Manchester, and it was looking like Villa had pulled off a scoreless draw.Â
That was, until the 88th minute, when Kortney Hause netted from another well worked set-piece. And soon there was a chance for some kind of redemption when United were awarded a penalty, in the 93rd minute.Â
At this point youâ€™d be forgiven for thinking that Cristiano Ronaldo was about to step up and take it. Out of his 167 career penalties, heâ€™s missed just 28.Â
But it was his Portugal teammate Bruno Fernandes that stepped up. Heâ€™s one of the best penalty takers in the world, having converted 93% of 45 in his career up until that point. Some fans even nicknamed him Bruno â€śPenandesâ€ť because of that success.
And he skied it way over the bar.
â€śBruno Fernandes misses! It almost ended up in the top tier of the Stretford Endâ€¦ It almost ended up at Villa Parkâ€¦ Thatâ€™s how high it went!â€ťSky Sports Football
Heâ€™s not the first player to have done this, and he wonâ€™t be the last.Â
Fernandes had a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Not just being solely responsible for earning a point for his side in the last minute of the game, but doing that with Ronaldo, who loves to take penalties, breathing down his neck!
And so Fernandes issued a public apology. Not just a quick â€śsorryâ€ť to the fans, but a six paragraph statement. You know, the kind that would normally be reserved for a much more serious misdemeanour.Â
And itâ€™s caused a huge debate this week.Â
Former United defender Gary Neville slammed the apology as â€śembarrassingâ€ť and called for footballers to â€śsack their PR peopleâ€ť and be more â€śauthentic.â€ť
You could say that Ally McCoist, the former Rangers striker, agrees with Neville.
â€śIâ€™ve never heard so much nonsense in all my life. You should issue an apology if you mistime a tackle and injure somebody and genuinely donâ€™t mean it, then I get, I get that, right, absolutely I get that. But come on Sam, itâ€™s absolute garbage! And itâ€™s not even him, itâ€™s PR teams, itâ€™s Gary Neville is 110% correct. Iâ€™ve never heard so much absolute drivel in all my life.â€ťAlly McCoist, talkSPORT
So the question is, was this apology really necessary?
The key may lie in the debate that was raised after the failed European Superleague project.Â
It raised the idea thereâ€™s two types of football fans.Â
So-called â€ślegacyâ€ť fans are the kind of supporters that we traditionally think of with football. They go to matches, or at least go to the pub with friends to watch.
â€śItâ€™s pure greed, Theyâ€™re imposters. Theyâ€™re imposters. Theyâ€™re nothing to doâ€¦ the owners of this club, the owners of Liverpool, the owners of Chelsea, the owners of Manchester City, theyâ€™re nothing to do with football in this country. Thereâ€™s a hundred an odd years of history in this country from fans that have lived and loved these clubsâ€¦â€ťÂSky Sports Football
The other type of fans follow their team through social media, watching goals and highlights clips rather than full 90 minute matches. They buy merchandise. In fact, they usually spend lots of money on it.Â
And they are usually based in countries across the world that donâ€™t have a strong football league of their own.Â Â
Letâ€™s look at the numbers.Â
Old Trafford holds 76,000 people. Only a small percentage of Unitedâ€™s total income comes from match day revenue. But theyâ€™ve got 27.4 million followers on Twitter. And almost 75 million people have liked their Facebook page. In 2019, it was estimated that United have over a billion fans worldwide.Â
All of those people have the potential to order a shirt, a mug, anything really, from the clubâ€™s online store.
So you can see how these large numbers add up to big profits.
This type of fan, added with Bruno Fernandesâ€™ 2.1 million Twitter followers of his own, didnâ€™t necessarily watch the whole match with Villa. And they may well appreciate an apology on social media.Â
Because social media is the way in which they choose to interact with their club.
And Manchester Unitedâ€™s profits rely on keeping them happy.Â
So now matter how outraged former players and so-called â€ślegacy supportersâ€ť are about what seems to be highly-polished, PR-driven apology statements, my guess is theyâ€™re here to stay.Â
Gary Neville wants authenticity. But isnâ€™t an authentic experience at odds with a world viewed entirely through social media?
Todayâ€™s episode was written by Chloe Beresford, and produced by Matt Russell.
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