A rude tweet insulting athletes from another country has cost a second Olympian a spot at the games.
Michel Morganella, one of the players on Switzerland’s Olympic men’s soccer team, sent out such a tweet following his team’s 2-1 loss to South Korea on Sunday. Morganella’s tweet said that Koreans should “burn themselves” and described them as “retards.”
Despite Morganella’s quick apology posted on his Twitter page, a prompt response from the Swiss team chief resulted in Morganella’s Twitter account deleted from the social networking site and his dismissal from the team.
“He discriminated, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korean football team and the South Korean people,” Swiss team chief Gian Gilli said to Reuters.
Morganella is the second Olympian to get the boot because of a racially charged tweet. Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was left in Athens after her so-called “joke” about Africans in Greece.
“With so many Africans in Greece, at least the mosquitoes of West Nile will eat homemade food!!!” she tweeted.
The triple jumper was no longer welcome to travel to London with her fellow Greek athletes.
“Social media is, in the end, about how people are using it,” says social media expert Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer and professor at Columbia University. “Social media doesn’t change the people who are using it and racism has been part of human nature and part of sports for centuries.”
He added, “Twitter is like athletes having their own press conference.”
The International Olympic Committee created “IOC Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines” which clearly states that upon noncompliance of the guidelines an athlete can be stripped of their Olympic Games accreditations.
“These athletes know they live in a world of sponsorships, public opinion and their fans,” said Sreenivasan. “The world today is about branding, having a following, having people cheer you on and social media has a role in that, social media can build you up.”
Social media can also break you down. An inappropriate tweet can send you out of London, out of the Olympics and straight home faster than you can tweet your apology. Game over.