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How Twitter busted the football hearing gag

Video by Florence VILLEMINOT

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-06-30

Wednesday’s much-awaited parliamentary face-off with outgoing French national coach Raymond Domenech was a closed-door affair. But that was until a "traitor" with a Twitter account revealed all.

"Follow the Domenech and Escalettes hearings on my Twitter account.” With these words, tweeted at 10 am Wednesday morning, French parliamentarian Lionel Tardy offered an insider’s account of a closed-door parliamentary hearing with outgoing French national coach Raymond Domenech and ex-French Football Federation (FFF) president Jean-Pierre Escalettes.

The two football officials were summoned to Wednesday’s hearings following the French team’s very public meltdown at the 2010 World Cup tournament in South Africa earlier this month.

The much-awaited hearing, touted as a post-mortem of what went wrong in South Africa, was initially scheduled to be open to the press. But following an FFF request, the session took place at the National Assembly building in Paris behind closed doors.

Closed to the public, that is, but not closed to the now-ubiquitous micro-blogging site that has a track record for worming past censors, dictators and tight-lipped officials.

Thanks to Tardy’s tweets, French football fans got a blow-by-blow account of the proceedings in the National Assembly building Wednesday.

The parliamentarian from the eastern French region of Haute-Savoie kicked off his micro-blog reports with the tweet: “Live Escalettes: 'I will answer frankly, hard for me, bus of shame, spoilt and rotten kids, discipline...' " referring to the bus the French players locked themselves in after boycotting a public training session in support of expelled striker Nicolas Anelka, who had insulted Domenech.

‘Domenech: The headline in L’Equipe started it all’

“Live: Copé,” said another tweet, referring to French parliamentarian Jean-Francois Copé, “not a court, the goal is to understand ...”

Another entry said, "Domenech: The headline in L’Equipe started it all ... " referring to the French sports daily, L’Equipe, which splashed a headline of expletives that Anelka allegedly hurled at Domenech, kick-starting the subsequent showdown.

The Twitter reports continued. “Live: Escalettes’ response: In the bus, I was confronted by a WALL, which I have never seen in my 50 years in football."

‘I am the traitor’

The micro-blogging site was also a snub to the crowds of reporters gathered at the National Assembly building Wednesday in a desperate bid to capture scraps of comments from the politicians and sports officials at the closed-door session.

Some of Tardy’s tweets were also self-referential. "Live hearing Domenech and Escalettes: I am the traitor who twitted" he wrote, referring to an earlier rant by French captain Patrice Evra about the need to discover who was the "traitor" who leaked the incendiary Anelka quote to L’Equipe.

This is not Tardy’s first attempt at busting privacy arrangements. In March, he sent tweets from a closed-door session held by members of his party, the ruling UMP party.

By deliberately and blatantly breaking gag rules, Tardy has been questioning the fragility of privacy statures in this day and age. "I acknowledge I have no problem doing it. I have no problem with the sanctions. I am democratically elected, that's my biggest advantage,” Tardy told reporters after the hearing. “Anyway, after three days, this will be reported on the National Assembly Web site."

Tardy’s tweets of course come at a time when his colleagues – and legislators across the world – are still coming to grips with the legal ramifications of social networking and micro-blogging sites.

A National Assembly official, who declined to be named since he was not authorized to speak to the press, told FRANCE 24 that as far as he knew, there were no rules barring Tardy from doing what he did at Wednesday’s sessions.

The revelations however, came to an abrupt end about an hour after Tardy’s first tweet, when the parliamentarian shamefacedly terminated his micro-blogs with the following tweet: "Live Escalettes and Domenech hearings: I got a red card .... end of tweets!" The "traitor" had been found.
 

Date created : 2010-06-30

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