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The Roar


Selfie or sabotage? Exposing football’s multiple online identities

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Roar Rookie
6th June, 2019

Social media is about perception. It allows sporting clubs to create filtered images of success, but it also reveals a digital platform of fabrication and amusement.

In the A-League off-season, ambitious clubs will be aiming to improve their brand awareness on the internet. Many will use Instagram, a photo and video sharing application.

Last October, an Instagram video belonging to Usain Bolt went viral. Wearing a striped barcode jersey, the wealthy sprinter struck a pose to six million viewers, having scored his maiden goal for the Central Coast Mariners.

Even though the Jamaican’s dream eventually became extinct, for a brief moment, the Gosford club was bigger than Ploddy the Dinosaur. After the initial hype, the Mariners ended their campaign with the wooden spoon.

Instagram’s demographics are traditionally under 35 years of age. To the impressionable fledglings, following an avatar is desirable, even if the two never meet.

It’s all a fantasy. Each online supporter can wishfully aspire to play for Juventus, date a Spanish model or drive a Bugatti.

Reaching 169 million followers, one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest Instagram posts is a real humdinger. It features the Portuguese deity hurling a random throwing dart off-screen.


To the uninitiated minion, it’s an ambiguous advertisement that keeps viewers guessing. On closer inspection, Ronaldo is promoting suede loafers.

Surprisingly, the online endorsement doesn’t feature any actual shoes. Is it a missed opportunity? Clearly Ronnie doesn’t think so. The suave chap could probably sell shampoo to Kevin Muscat.

Our A-League Instagram market is noticeably much smaller, and some teams are more tech-savvy than others. Three-time champions Brisbane Roar openly boast about their achievements online.

Adelaide United, however, are more modest. The Reds omit a staggering fact, forgetting to mention their record-breaking FFA Cup triumphs.

Do the bigger teams genuinely respect sponsorship dollars?

It’s safe to assume Ethihad Airways and Huawei are valued brands. Each company would hold both Melbourne City and Wellington Phoenix accountable. Somehow Adelaide United slipped under the radar.

Can you guess which A-League club has the most Instagram followers? In a town nicknamed Sin City, this fraternity was destined to fall in love with their own reflection.


It’s Sydney FC. The glittering Harbour City club attracts over 85,000 people to its colourful pages. That’s slightly more than Melbourne Victory’s 84,000 followers.

The turquoise waters of Port Jackson, it seems, gleamed somewhat brighter than the beige discharge of the Yarra River.

Which A-League organisation can take pride in displaying superior community engagement? It’s a cultured city that believes the MCG is the sporting capital of the nation.

It’s Melbourne Victory. The Big V follows over five thousand businesses, fans and other clubs. It proves the team is quite accessible to their beloved supporters.

Lagging behind is Sydney FC, choosing to only follow around a thousand and a half accounts. Such exclusiveness can’t be afforded, especially after a stellar season.

Further north of the Harbour Bridge sits a resilient city that doesn’t completely embrace Instagram. It’s a tough-as-nails town built on shipyards and steel.

Welcome to Newcastle. Only 29,000 advocates pursue their beloved Jets online. As many Novocastrians are probably busy working the region’s coal deposits, there’s no time to pose for a duck face selfie.


Another digital platform is Twitter. The message service is traditionally exploited by sporting fanatics with a mob mentality. It’s the preferred medium for the Western Sydney Wanderers’ fans.

The Parramatta wordsmiths have a staggering 133,000 converts, the most in the A-League.

If you check Twitter’s Wikipedia page, it’s noted that over 40 per cent of Tweets – according to Pear Analytics – are made up of “pointless babble”.

Who knew the eloquent RBB were the Shakespearean poets of the Cumberland Plains?

The saddest Twitter account belongs to an unlucky squad, who many believe deserved to win silverware last May. Only 37,000 secret admirers follow Perth Glory. It’s one of the lowest figures in the A-League.


Still, Tony Popovic can console Brendon Santalab with some positive knowledge. Glory composed nearly the highest amount of Tweets at around 48,000 messages.

That’s a solid effort. At least their marketing team is giving it their best shot.