Tuesday, ( 1st June), was a massive day for the England national team, and for us the fans, as this was the day England’s final 23 man squad for the upcoming World Cup was announced.
A day which started out with great promise for the FA ended up being a very mixed one, and one that they probably learnt a lot about the social media world from, so without further ado – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.
The day started very well for the FA, with the launch of their new “Believe in England” Facebook app which allows fans to get their very own England squad number and display it on their Facebook profile.
The app seems to have exploded onto the scene, I discovered the app early on in the day and got the squad number 323, and in just over a day there are now 29,214England fans (as of 10am Wednesday) who have claimed their squad number.
The numbers 1-23 are taken up by the England players, with a number of shirts also given away to famous England fans such as Tim Lovejoy and Ray Winstone. Other special numbers include 66 representing the Bobby Moore foundation, 2012 representing The London Olympics and representing the England 2018 World Cup bid.
This app is a great way for the FA to spread their “Believe in England” message and also drive greater connection and engagement with fans.
There was mass speculation around who will be the unlucky 7 dropped from the squad since England’s game against Japan, and this speculation naturally came to a boiling point on Tuesday with thousands upon thousands of England fans predicting who would be dropped and who would make it.
The FA had said that the official squad will be announced on TheFA.com at some point Tuesday, and of course there was always going to be speculation amongst fans and I’m sure the FA expected this – it’s when this speculation started to come from various journalists and respected news sources that it all started to gain a head of steam.
From what I understand Fabio Cappello wanted to speak to the 7 dropped players personally and let them know about his decision, and I think that is the best way he could have handled the situation – if you’re dropped from a World Cup squad the least you deserve is a personal message, and I think Cappello was spot on with this approach.
Where this approach fell down however was via social media – had the FA underestimated the power of Twitter? And the speed at which news can travel nowadays?
With the 7 players seemingly being told that they’d been dropped at different times throughout the afternoon, it was always going to be difficult to keep it under wraps. News of Darren Bent’s exclusion was first to break and was confirmed on Twitter by one of his friends, and the biggest story of the day – Theo Walcott’s absence from the squad – broke soon after, and I believe one national paper had even run a story about this on their website well before the official squad announcement.
By the time The FA Tweeted this message “Plenty of speculation about #EnglandSquad, but rest assured this and TheFA.com will be the first place you hear confirmation of final 23” at around 2 O’clock most of the fans already knew the major stories and could name at least 5 of the dropped players.
As I said earlier maybe the FA had underestimated the power of social media and what started out as a big win for the FA with the launch of their “Believe in England” app, turned into a bit of a shambles with the squad announcement, and as Chris Hughes said in his recent article: Did they really expect the rejected players to keep quiet in the many hours between the dreaded phone call and the FA announcement?
From early on Tuesday morning the FA said that the official squad announcement would be put up on TheFA.com, which initially I thought made sense as it would be easily accessible (I thought).
However, from around lunch time if you wanted to check the FA’s official website you were going to struggle, the site was taking an age to load – I’m guessing due to the high volume of traffic seeking out the final England 23 – and eventually I just gave up with checking the site and found all the information I needed via social media. I wasn’t alone in doing this either, I noticed many other Tweets from people complaining about troubles with TheFA.com.
In the end I didn’t look at the official site to see the final squad, I already knew most of it from Tweets and speculation flying around, once the squad was confirmed (and even before) the news was up on hundreds of other sources (which all loaded).
In hindsight, maybe TheFA.com wasn’t the best place to announce the final squad?
I’ve not written this article to get on the back of The FA, and I hope it doesn’t come across this way. It’s great that they are getting involved in social media and as I stated at the top of this article their new Facebook page and App is brilliant and a great way to further engage fans prior to the World Cup, I just feel that their approach to social media with regards to the squad announcement and also their website could have done with a bit more planning.
How do you feel the FA could have handled this situation better?