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October 2020

Warping reality: How the media reworking of the real world evolved after the game

Arsenal fans were quick to condemn Olivier Giroud for his blunt attacking threat as the Gunners slipped to a 2-0 home defeat in the first leg of their Champions League knockout tie with Barcelona.

The closest the French striker came to a goal was a powerful header that forced a marvellous stop from Barca keeper ter Stegen.

Supporters of the north London side have voiced concern at firing several blanks in the Premier League since the turn of the year, and their players’ inability to take gilt-edged chances against the reigning European champions brought that tension to the fore once again.

Now he backed up these assertions, made at a distance of 6.5 miles from Arsenal (the Telegraph is in Buckingham Palace Road) with a grand total of nine (yes nine) Tweets.

So shall we run his piece again

Arsenal fans were quick to condemn Olivier Giroud

based on tweets from nine fans.

Looking at the tweets I suspect none of the writers, rather like the Telegraph’s Social Media Content Editor (whatever that actually means), were at the game.

Now when, in the past, I have differentiated between people at the game and those not, I have had comments to the effect that I was being highly unreasonable suggesting those not at the game did not have the right to comment.

I am not saying that, but I am saying that if one’s comments are based on the media coverage, then they are less reliable than the comments of those of us who were there, because the media coverage is giving a totally biased viewpoint of what was going on.   For example, the Telegraphic man made much of a pass by Giroud which went to no one, when he had Walcott waiting for it.

What actually happened (and I can say this with certainty because it happened right in front of my seat in the East) was that Giroud saw Theo, looked at the defenders and the ball and passed to where Theo had been a moment before.  But Theo by then had moved and so the ball went to no one.

Failing to reflect the main issue in the game (the refereeing) and details such as this, give people watching on TV completely false impressions of the game.   Basing criticism as the eccentric and (might I guess, given the way he is writing) astoundingly lazy Sean Gibson, on nine tweets without having been there, is a bit silly, although typically Telegraphian.

All I can say is, if unfortunately, you can’t get to the game, you are very much be misled by the media companies that you are using to see the game.  It’s not your fault of course, it is the fault of Sean Gibson and his employers, but believe me, the reality you are being given, is not the reality that was perceived by most of the Arsenal supporters in the ground.


  • 24 February 1902: Millwall 2 Arsenal 1, London League Premier Division.  The rivalry between the two clubs continued however only 3000 turned up as the game was played on a Monday afternoon.
  • 24 February 1926. Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 0 in front of 71446 in the FA Cup 5th round replay.  It was the biggest crowd thus far at Highbury despite just two wins in the last six league games.

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24 comments to Warping reality: How the media reworking of the real world evolved after the game

  • proudkev

    So true.

    There is so much competition with the saturation of the media now days that good journalism has disappeared.

    Its just a load of poorly informed jibberish.

    Unfortunatley social media has created a type and that type is unpleasant.

  • Usama Zaka

    Tony, the amount of the these so called sports journalists/writers/reporters you have exposed over the years is exceptional and quite funny to read to be honest. I wish if only I had a quid each time you did that 😀

  • Serge

    I always defer to the opinions of those actually attending games over those (like myself) who only watch on TV.
    If you can get a free ticket to a Champions League game of the stature of last nights you’d have to be a bit of a chancer to earn a living by writing it up just on TV viewing and or tweets.
    I wonder if his editor knows what he’s up to.

  • roger crates

    Perhaps i can make a suggestion for a future campaign.
    I, like the majority of fans watch most of my football on TV.
    The biggest single difference is the lack of crowd noise. Having been to stadium games as well I feel that 90% of singing is censored out!!!
    I know there is a litle colourful language but that does not account for the amount of censoship.

  • paul35mm

    The Gibson story and so many others are worse than useless. Instead of informing supporters who couldn’t be at the game they mislead. If a writer wasn’t present they should say so in the article and they should cite their sources for assertions made. That’s a minimum standard for anything called ‘journalism’.

    Writing a story based on interviews of people is fine, but you have to name them and you have to check what they say against the facts. If nine people said Giroud was awful, but the writer doesn’t actually know, it is irresponsible and misleading to make that evaluation.

    There have been countless stories claiming all sorts of ridiculous crap regarding what the game means. It means Arsenal lost 2-0 against the best team in the world.

    A 2-0 loss doesn’t mean Arsenal need to sign nine of the best players in the world to be competitive, it doesn’t mean Giroud sucks, it doesn’t mean Arsene Wenger should be fired, and it doesn’t mean that Alexis Sanchez is over-used.

  • ClockEndRider

    I concur with what you say about the booing wholeheartedly. I was at the game and the booing was for Barcelona’s 12th man.
    Roger Crates,
    The TV have microphones all round the ground. In order to back up whatever narrative they want to spin they simply turn up, down or off those in a certain area. Best to find a radio commentary such as Online Arsenal and listen to that with TV turned down.

  • Peter Hellyer

    My biggest concern was the introduction of Flamini, am I right in thinking that he is prone to tackle in a manner that attracts the attention of officials? I thought at the time that no good would come of his introduction to the game.

  • norman14

    Of course, Turkish football supporters are such a lovely group, after all, didn’t they murder a Leeds fan a few years back?

  • finsbury

    I was at the match and the booing directed towards the hapless bungler was almost as bad as that received by that other FUFA/RICO official representative Martin Atkinson.

    In a way it was funny to see a referee have to come to the aid of the panicking Barca in that first half, all the money in the world, three or two of the most expensive bungs I mean transfers and they still needed the ref to drop his trousers and humiliate himself whilst trying to bend over backwards in aid of the greatest team in the world.

    The reason people were booing in such volume and number from so early in the game was because the entire situation before them was farcical.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great news on the actions of the fans , the refs we get …game after game…deserve all the crowd can give them.
    However the media report of, hope the Emirates crowd keep it up.
    The people I knew who went to get he game said the ref got dogs abuse.
    I know refs need respect and encouragement, but when they ignore the rules of the game to suit an agenda, they deserve all the verbals they can get. Hope it continues where the world what these refs are.

  • Pat

    Not having been at the game, it is welcome news that the referee got such abuse from our fans. It’s cheered me up!

  • Gord

    According to “Turkish Football”, all of the swearing at the referee at the game (which caused the Turkish TV coverage to change) was by a single Arsenal fan known as “Bully”.

    Turkish Football has another article, a bit older, where they say that the referee was not a significant factor in the game.

    And they have a third article, showing the Turkish referee getting slammed on Twitter.

    This is in looking at “football referee” stories in Google News, sorted on date, going on 9 pages (17 hours). It would appear the only referee football story in England, was that Mark Clattenburg has dropped the agency that was representing him.

    No whorenalist any where in the world is saying there were any probalems with the officiating versus Barcelona.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A local , a reporter and a tough old soldier were captured by terrorists in XXXX .
    The leader of the terrorists told them he’d grant each of them one last request before they were beheaded and dragged naked through the streets.
    The local said, ‘Well, I’m a foodie, so I’d like one last plate of tandoori chicken.’
    The leader nodded to an underling who left and returned with the Chicken.
    The local ate it all and said, ‘Now I can die content.’

    The reporter said, ‘I’m a reporter to the end. I want to take out my tape recorder and describe the scene here and what’s about to happen. Maybe, someday, someone will hear it and know that I was on the job till the end.’
    The leader directed an aide to hand over the tape recorder and the reporter dictated his comments. He then said, ‘Now I can die happy.’

    The leader turned to the soldier and asked, ‘And now, soldier , what is your final wish?’
    ‘Kick me in the rear,’ said the soldier.
    ‘What?’ asked the leader, ‘Will you mock us in your last hour?’
    ‘No, I’m NOT kidding. I want you to kick me in the rear,’ insisted the soldier.
    So the leader shoved him into the yard and kicked him in the rear.

    The soldier went sprawling, but rolled to his knees, pulled out his service pistol from inside his cammies and shot the leader dead. In the resulting confusion, he emptied his sidearm on five terrorists, then with his knife he slashed the throat of one, and with an AK-47, which he took from one of the already dead terrorists, sprayed the rest of the terrorists killing another 11.
    In a flash, all of them were either dead or fleeing for their lives.

    As the soldier was untying the local and the reporter, they asked him, ‘Why didn’t you just shoot them all in the first place? Why did you ask him to kick you in the rear?’
    ‘Because’, replied the soldier, ‘if I had shot first, you two morons would have reported that I was the aggressor and the root cause of all the blood shedding in XXXX .’

  • Brickfields Gunners

    ❝The last generation didn’t have the internet, the most powerful tool ever created by humanity, so they know it’s value. We used to have to go to the library and research for hours to get an answer to a simple question. I find it shocking and absurd that most of the new generation, with infinite power at their fingertips, choose to use this tool to brag about how cool they are, watch stupid videos, and argue. They can literally learn anything they want, anytime, but choose to use it to get dumber. It blows my mind❞ – Don Freeman

  • Tai


    I watch Arsenal games from over 3000 miles away on television. As much as I try to limit my analysis to the actions on the pitch, sometimes sentiments do force one to form opinions based on third party reports.

    Most times I wait to read match reports and Arsene Wenger’s post-match interview form to perfectly understand whatever I missed before I pen my opinions.

    Those of you privileged to stay close enough to have season tickets and watch dear Gunners live may not fully appreciate the urge and enthusiasm associated with loving someone who never knew you existed. And there goes hate too. Most ‘reporters’ and ‘pundits’ hate Arsene and Arsenal so much that they fabricate stories to suit their mindsets. Unfortunately most of us not privileged to get information first-hand fall prey.

    However, it’s brain work to be able to sieve authentic report from mere conjecture – a continuous battle.

  • Minesy

    I too am in the East stand and, yes, Giroud passed to where Theo was …

    To be honest, having watched the last few games, Theo and The Ox are the two who are disappointing me, just not happening for either at the moment … Campbell and Welbeck make a lot more happen and give the opposition more problems …

  • Va Cong

    Brickfields you are on fire today! made me laugh off my seat! kick me in the rear!

  • norman14


    PGMOL are indeed from a past generation – they don’t have internet (web site) for informing or email for contact.

    Not sure how that stacks up within the companies act.

  • Minesy


    Don’t know if you’ve seen this yet … but if we take Tony Blackburn at face value, (and I have no reason not to), the BBC are up to their old tricks again … showing quite wonderfully while the appointment of Greg Dyke, (for those unaware, he used to work for and had to resign from the BBC ), to the FA was a match made in heaven …

    GBest quote in the wiki article is : “Hutton described Dyke’s approach to checking news stories as “defective” …. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ….

  • Menace

    The difference between watcing a game live & on TV – The third dimension; the peripheral occurences, the positioning of the officials, the sound of the audience.

    The 3rd dimension is so important when wtching any sport. It is why we have been given 2 eyes & 2 ears. The eyes see the depth & the ears position the sound physically. The peripheral occurences are things that cameras don’t capture. The things that happen away from the ball & the immediate focus of the official (note the term official). There are 3 active officials & one passive (sometimes 3 passive until the ball arrives near the goal). The active officials should effectively cover the whole field of play with their peripheral vision. The PGMO rarely seem to cover 10% of the field of play let alone the play in focus where the ball is. The sound of the audience gives everyone an inkling as to the situation of play.

    Gasps, screams, boos, whistles, silence, abuse & applause. The sound allows nothing to pass without emotion. Officials know the reasons why sounds occur. They should react & behave in a manner to placate the situation within the Laws of the Game while insuring nothing allows violence or a riot.

    There is certainly a difference between ‘live’ football & TV football.

  • proudkev


    The BBC has been out of control for years. Lining their pockets with tax payers money and acting way above it’s remit. The way it has been covering up the Jimmy Saville affair for years is scandalous. The same with the Jill Dando situation. There is something really rotten in the BBC and it has to be removed now. These child abuse/paedophile covers ups, like in Rotherham, are an absolute disgrace but it seems they all get away with it. Too many important people involved and too much evidence has gone ‘missing’ but they have to do something.

    Should tax payers really be funding this lot, I think not. Far too much abuse.

  • Minesy

    As I said Proudkev, Dyke is therefore the perfect front for the FA …

  • Rantetta

    It’s not the first time I’ve seen euro refs acting like PigMob refs – when “doing” Arsenal. ‘Twas bad enough for the first minutes but when Nacho was booked and I saw the replay, I knew exactly where Arsenal stood.

    My jaw dropped when after about 25/30 mins. the co-com, McManaman? declared summit like, ‘ it has been very quiet here at the Ems’.

    Even with the true stadium sound largely muted, allowing commentators voices to be the dominant aural experience for those watching on TV, the only quietness in that time came once the crowd settled having boo ed at the refs following outrageous decisions against Arsenal.

    You really can pick apart all of the commentator “set pieces”. It’s as though you have to dual experience (a bit like watching a news program with extra items running along the bottom of the screen).
    Yes, one could turn the sound down but it’d be nice to hear what’s really going on, rather than the fiddled, muted bolux narrative that arrives.

    The whole presstitute community appear to follow commands from someone hidden – to describe an incident in a way that fits a story, rather than what has actually happened. They’re sick puppies all.

  • norman14

    The FA in their wisdom have scheduled the replay against Hull for Tuesday March 8th with a 7 pm kick off.

    The FA said that “There was an option for a 5.45pm kick off, however, the spirit of The FA Cup is strongly defined by the supporters and an earlier time would have significantly impacted on fans’ attendance. This was not a viable solution.”

    Do the bloody old farts at the FA know where Hull is? Do they know how far it is from London? The consideration of the fans is bollocks – it’s the consideration of BT that has resulted in this stupid timing!

    Media win out over supporters again.