The Rundown

‘Monkeys with machine guns’: Sport’s Twitter twits

The Rundown

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England
cricket chief Hugh Morris has launched a hilarious attack on sports stars who
get themselves into hot water using Twitter, likening them to monkeys with
machine guns.

As the
social networking site has gone from being popular to ubiquitous, dozens of
sporting figures around the world have ended up in trouble over their unguarded
comments. The best-case scenario is that they end up looking stupid; the worst
is that they end up being banned from their sport.

Morris defended
some players' abilities to use Twitter appropriately, however.

"It's
a great medium for pushing out good messages when it is done really well. When
it's done poorly it is a complete and utter nightmare for those of us trying to
manage and lead teams," he said.

"It is
like giving a machine gun to a monkey. It can be fantastic or it can be an
absolute disaster too."

Sadly,
Morris declined to give examples of times when monkeys with machine guns have
been 'fantastic'; we'll leave you to ponder that one yourselves.

But his comments did serve to remind us just how much Twitter has freshened up sport. In an era
when post-match press conferences yield endless strings of banalities and in-depth
interviews are cut to ribbons by excessively zealous PR monsters, Twitter often
offers a genuine insight into what is going through the heads of sport's
top stars.

Almost always, that means sports stars making themselves look ridiculous... so we
decided to celebrate the carnival of brilliance, idiocy and unbeatable entertainment
value delivered by sport's unguarded Twitterati by picking our top 10 Twitter
twits. These are just our favourites - as ever, leave your alternative
suggestions in the comments box down below.

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Serena Williams

Though tennis's
female superstar might be struggling with form and fitness, off the court she's
entertaining in a way that makes Gossip Girl look like Downton Abbey. Stories
of her dog pooing in her car, exhortations to try new cheese and debates on
whether He-Man would beat Superman in an arm-wrestling match are the stuff of Twitter
legend.

But our
all-time favourite Serena Twitter moment is a blend of stupidity and narcissism
that just can't be beaten: her series of four tweets asking her
followers how many Grand Slam titles she's won:

"Hey
guys... Ok so this is a weird question- but how many grand slam singles titles
do I have.. I can't remember.... Anyone out there know??"

"Ok
guys I'm so serious. I can't remember how many grand slams I have. I see that
Tiger Woods has 14 and I've always wanted to catch him!!"

"I'm
thinking 12 or 13 I'm too lazy to google it...

"Ok
thanks guys! Its 12!!! Hahahah who doesnt remember things like that? Lol me I
guess!!"

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Craig Kieswetter

The England
cricketer caused a storm - or more a squall, really - when posting a Twitter
picture of himself apparently driving along the motorway at 90mph with the words
"my view right now".

The picture was quickly removed after several
people tweeted asking him if he was trying to get himself arrested.

Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu

The
Gloucester and Samoa rugby star almost got himself thrown out of the World Cup
after citing slavery and the holocaust while blasting Samoa's fixture
congestion in New Zealand.

"It's
obvious the IRB are unjust. Wales get seven days, we get three. Unfair
treatment, like slavery, like the holocaust, like apartheid," he wrote,
ensuring that a legitimate point about Samoa's treatment in the scheduling
would immediately be overshadowed by his unfortunate analogies.

That didn't
stop him unleashing a new rant just a few days later when he accused a referee
of being "racist" and "biased", which landed him a six-month
suspended ban.

Not that
the ruling slowed him down: on his return to England he was straight back into
it, criticising Saracens' Owen Farrell and making a series of sarcastic
comments about the referee and the disciplinary proceedings (such as "I
would say the referee was a joke but I'd probably get fined for it so I won't")
to earn a three-week ban from the RFU for "conduct prejudicial to the
interests of the game".

That ban has
opened the door for the IRB to enforce the suspended ban, which Fuimaono-Sapolu
is desperately appealing at the moment to try to avoid ending up sidelined
until next season.

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Stephanie Rice

The
Australian swimmer - a three-times Olympic champion - was delighted after watching
boyfriend Quade Cooper and his Australia side beat South Africa at the Rugby World
Cup. Unfortunately she chose to celebrate with a homophobic tweet aimed at the
Springboks ("Suck on that faggots," she wrote).

She soon
apologised and removed the offensive tweet, which she described as "thoughtless
and careless", but sponsors Jaguar were not impressed.  They immediately axed her deal, and popped
round to repossess the £60,000 car that was part of her contract.

Joey Barton

The fiery
footballer became a Twitter sensation this summer with a series of tweets
blasting Newcastle United's management, earning a two-week fine and simultaneously a reputation as a modern footballing
bard.

"Somewhere
in those high echelons of NUFC, they have decided, I am persona non grata,"
he tweeted, proving that Frank Lampard is not the only Premier League footballer
who speaks Latin.

"One
day the board might realise what the shirt signifies HONOUR and PRIDE," went
another tweet, a thinly-veiled attack which convinced the Magpies to cut him
loose.

Barton span
the situation cleverly, throwing out George Orwell quotes such as, "in
times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act".
He split views: some saw him as a footballing Che Guevara telling it how it is
to penny-pinching Magpies chiefs who had refused to spend the money they got
from Andy Carroll's sale; others saw his tweets as a cynical smokescreen worthy
of a pretentious sixth form English student, designed for the sole purpose of fast-tracking
himself on to the free transfer list.

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Ryan Babel

The former
Liverpool star got in hot water with the FA after tweeting a picture of referee
Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United shirt after the Reds lost to the Red
Devils in January. Webb had drawn heavy criticism for a awarding a soft early penalty
to United and later sending off Steven Gerrard.

Babel, now
with Hoffenheim, was fined £10,000 by the FA for the tweet, despite Ian
Holloway revealing that Webb himself had simply laughed it off.

"I thought
it was funny - I thought the ref looked really cool in a Man United shirt to be
honest! I saw him (Webb) in the toilet at the match I went to the other night
at Stockport," Holloway said a few days later. "I said 'come on, what
sort of game did you have against Man United? Was that a sending off and was
that a penalty?' We had a bit of a laugh about it, but to pick on young Ryan
Babel for that - how can you fine him for that? It's rubbish."

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Kevin Pietersen

The batsman
caused a storm with his four-letter blast aimed at England selectors for
dropping him in August 2010, in which he said, "Done for rest of summer!!
Man of the World Cup T20 and dropped from the T20 side too. Its a f**k up!!"

The tweet
was removed soon after, but Pietersen was slapped with a fine for "a
significant breach of the England player conditions of employment".

Mark Bright

The former
Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday striker, now a BBC presenter and analyst,
ended up quitting Twitter (temporarily) after he sparked an outcry by wading
into the John Terry-Wayne Bridge war in 2010. The furore was over Bright repeating a terrace chant (whose
only printable line, in among comments about Terry's parents, was "Chelsea
wherever u may b Don't leave ur wife with john terry") and a joke ("Cappello
told Bridgy I've spoken to JT and he's lost the armband, can you have a look
under the bed pls.")

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Tiger Woods

While most get
in trouble on Twitter for saying too much, the golf legend earns a spot in the
hall of shame for saying too little. Woefully sporadic updates, endless plugs
for products pushed by his few remaining loyal sponsors, and only the blandest
of insights on the rare occasions when they're offered.

The only
time Woods ever generated interest was when he tweeted that he'd donate $1m to
charity if none of the journalists at an upcoming press conference asked him
about his injured leg. One idiot hack blew that bonus with the opening question
of the day, but all credit for Woods to writing the cheque anyway: "Bet
was over after first question but of course I'm going to give the money to the
@TWFoundation."

Carlton Cole

The West
Ham striker chose the occasion of an England v Ghana friendly earlier this year
to unleash a torrent of bad taste jokes. "Immigration has surrounded the
wembley premises! I knew it was a trap! Hahahaha... The only way to get out
safely is to wear an england jersey and paint your face w/ the St. George'sflag!"
he wrote, before adding. "Next friendly is gonna be Poland then Albania,
government think their sly! I seeit a mile away! Haha."

Cole was
slapped with a £20,000 fine by the FA despite a later tweet insisting, "it
was a joke & its not even racist!"

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