Sports stars have sparked political debate in recent months. Famous for their soap opera-style scandals and what the critics call “disturbing personalities,” many seem to be fast followers in the identity game.
Now the lions of football are entering the fray. Belgium international Romelu Lukaku is calling for social media CEOs to get together and discuss some of the digital issues facing our world.
He tweeted his request on Wednesday, shortly after reacting to the publication of a letter sent by 90 heads of industry from Adidas, Nike, Sony, Google, Twitter and others warning that social media companies were failing to crack down on “violent and abusive” content and comments on the internet.
“We have to keep it real – footballers have their own voice. Should the Facebook, Twitter and other social media be CEOs that speak to us, asking us how to evolve their systems?
“Not for once just their investors, but for sure for sport fans. And football players, see ya!”
The great Belgian striker has the sort of popularity that would tip the scales in any social media CEO’s favor, as he currently has 15.8 million followers on Twitter and nearly 7 million fans on Instagram.
On the pitch, Lukaku is also a famous public speaker. During his World Cup duties in Russia, for example, he made a number of public appearances to plug his brand, whether he was campaigning for Belgian political parties to improve their image in the global sporting community or promoting the Belgium team merchandise.
Lukaku’s tweet drew immediate support from fellow professional soccer players and supporters, including veterans Rio Ferdinand and former England captain David Beckham.
How about that. #CEOs meet footballers. We can keep it real! My tweet on social media meeting footballershttps://t.co/zV1nb6V7kP — Romelu Lukaku (@RomeluLukaku9) October 26, 2017
Being on the business end of Lukaku’s angry stream of Twitter messages is Lucas Barrios, a 20-year-old Venezuelan who went viral in May when he tackled his closest rival in the Mexico soccer tournament. Lukaku’s grievance, according to Reuters, is that Barrios should have been disallowed for a tackle on the front post.