Hector Bellerin

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Quotes

'Social's only amazing when used in the right way'

With five million followers online, Hector Bellerin knows all about the benefits and pitfalls of social media.

We sat down with our right back to discuss it in the second part of a wide-ranging interview, and this is what he told Arsenal Media:

on the benefits of social media...
I think social media is a blessing and a curse. Now, people around the world have the tool and the fortune to be able to communicate with their heroes, their favourite players. It’s not just in football, it’s in film, in music. This is something that you couldn’t do 20 years ago and it’s amazing, but it’s only amazing when it’s used in the right way. When it’s used to communicate in a positive way, to communicate the right messages, to be able to interact with people that you couldn’t have spoken to before. I think that’s the great thing about social media but then there’s so many other negative things as we all know. It’s all about using it in a way in which we can influence all these people in the most positive way.

Interview

Bellerin on social media: full transcript

We sat down with Hector Bellerin last month for a wide-ranging interview that covered social responsibility, the environment and footballers' affecting change.

In the second part of that discussion, our Spain international discussed the rise of social media, how it can be a force for good and bad and how he deals with criticism.

Read on for a full transcript:

Hector, I'd like to ask you about the role social media plays. Players in the past have talked about being misrepresented by the media when they speak out on issues. Now you have a function where you can speak directly to fans, you can speak with the filter off. How much of a benefit is that?

I think social media is a blessing and a curse. Now, people around the world have the tool and the fortune to be able to communicate with their heroes, their favourite players. It’s not just in football, it’s in film, in music. This is something that you couldn’t do 20 years ago and it’s amazing, but it’s only amazing when it’s used in the right way. When it’s used to communicate in a positive way, to communicate the right messages, to be able to interact with people that you couldn’t have spoken to before. I think that’s the great thing about social media but then there’s so many other negative things as we all know. It’s all about using it in a way in which we can influence all these people in the most positive way.

The filter's off in what you can say to people, and the filter is also off in what you have to read and hear. So it's refreshing, but also dangerous?

Yeah, of course. The other thing with it as well is that there’s always people there waiting for the smallest slip-up so they can make the biggest headline about something you have probably never said, about something they could have reworded. As I said, it’s a blessing and a curse but I think it’s amazing the fact that something could come out in the news before and there was no way you could have your say, but right now it’s very easy to say, ‘Listen guys, I never said this, I said that’. As I said, it’s always about using it in a positive way, in a way that can enhance you and the people around you in your club, in your image. That’s always the best way.

Of course, you're not alone in having to read criticism on social, The likes of Raheem Sterling, Mesut Ozil have had to go through that as well. What do you think when you see that? 

When I was really young I used to care a lot about these things because I come from this generation where social media was a very important thing growing up. At the beginning it can hurt you, but then when you start playing football and then you see that people are going to talk whether you do well or not, you get to a point where you just don’t care about it. People can type anything they want and you can just scroll through like you don’t see it. I think that’s something that comes as a professional. You love football, you play every day and with that, you’re so lucky that you’re able to do this. But at the same time, there’s going to be negative things about it and that’s probably one of those things. It’s part of the job and it’s something that you have to deal with. As you say, it just makes you blind and deaf towards all this kind of criticism. We know the kind of criticism we need to take, which comes from coaches, which comes from people that know football. I’m always open to learning. When I make mistakes, I know when I make them. The coach will tell me, ‘You should have done this, you should have done that’ and it’s about listening to the right people. All the 300,000 people out there who think they’re coaches and are always telling you what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, these aren’t the ones you need to listen to. You only need to listen to what you’ve been learning, to the coaches around you who will always give you the best advice for you and the team. That’s the best way for the club and for the team to always work in the best way possible.

You said recently that of you act differently, you become a target. Why do you think people react that way?

I think change is always scary for a lot of people. People think that because we are living in a certain way for the last 20 years, we should be living in the same way in the 20 years after, and it is not like this. The world keeps evolving, society keeps solving problems to get new ones. There's things that you could say 20 years ago that you can't say anymore. I think people are afraid of all this change. It always takes one person to raise this issue in order to change. Like it happened with Martin Luther King, you know, when so many people must have been like 'this guy is crazy’, but then thanks to people like him, as a society, we are where we are today and we're still not even halfway to where we should be. It's important to have people like that in order to progress and to be better people and to have a better world.
 

Quotes

Bellerin: It only takes one person to cause change

As an outspoken advocate for change, Hector Bellerin has long attracted praise and criticism in equal measure on social media.

But why do people react so strongly to those who dare to be different? This is what our right-back told Arsenal Media.

on why people react badly to people who act differently...
I think change is always scary for a lot of people. People think that because we are living in a certain way for the last 20 years, we should be living in the same way in the 20 years after, and it is not like this. The world keeps evolving, society keeps solving problems to get new ones. There's things that you could say 20 years ago that you can't say anymore. I think people are afraid of all this change. It always takes one person to raise this issue in order to change. Like it happened with Martin Luther King, you know, when so many people must have been like 'this guy is crazy’, but then thanks to people like him, as a society, we are where we are today and we're still not even halfway to where we should be. It's important to have people like that in order to progress and to be better people and to have a better world.

Quotes

Bellerin - Why plastic is such a massive issue

When Hector Bellerin returns to Barcelona to see family, it makes him sad to see the rubbish that has collected in the sea.

Protecting the environment - and cutting plastic - is one of the burning issues that fires him, and this is what he told Arsenal Media.

on the issues that affect him...
There are so many things for me… the climate is a big one, obviously after going plant-based, going vegan, all the things around that is something I like to get involved with. Plastic is a massive issue as well, growing up in the coastline of Barcelona and going back now and seeing all this rubbish in the sea - when I enjoyed it as a kid - makes me sad for the next generations. There are so many things as footballers that we could help more with.

on people of his age being interested in social issues…
I think it is so different [now]. I think the new generation, not just my one but the ones that are coming after me, they are people that know what is happening, there is so much information there now on the internet and on streaming services, they are raising these problems. The young people and the youth are trying to fight for a world where there is equality, where everyone is the same and helping each other. We want to take care of the planet, we want to make it a better one. It feels like the people who are ruling it want to do it the other way around: they want to separate people, they want to make even more damage on this earth while we are trying to make it better. So if the youth keep having the same mind right now, this open mind that we can have a better world than we have right now, then I am sure it will happen and it will be better altogether.

on the environment and making small changes for a combined big difference…
Of course. I saw something the other day along the lines of ‘oh, it’s only one straw’. That’s what billions of people said and it is kind of like that. A lot of people think the message isn’t to them because they’re only one person in a massive world. But if everyone takes that same action for good, it can save tonnes of water, plastic, animals. Everyone needs to feel that this message is to them. It would be very selfish to think it’s not. We can’t live in a perfect world right now, and we probably can’t not use plastic at all. But if there’s one little thing you don’t buy, or don’t use, and swap it for something better for this world, if everyone did that, we could make it happen.

Interview

‘It’s a duty to do what we can with our platform'

For Hector Bellerin, being a top-level footballer is a privilege - but with that privilege comes responsibility. 

For our Spanish right-back, the chance to really affect change should be embraced by those playing the sport to make a positive impact throughout society.

This is what Hector told Arsenal Media:

on what global issues antagonise or energise him…
With social issues, I think as footballers we have a massive platform that we should be using way more than we actually are. I know it is very comfortable to just sit at home and stay with your family, your kids and your friends and not think about anything, but with the platform we have, we should be the people that scream at these social issues and get them out there, so as a society we can move forward. There are so many things for me… the climate is a big one, obviously after going plant-based, going vegan, all the things around that is something I like to get involved with. Plastic is a massive issue as well, growing up on the coastline of Barcelona and going back now and seeing all this rubbish in the sea, which I enjoyed it as a kid, makes me sad for the next generations. There are so many things as footballers that we could help more with.

on whether footballers understand their platform to affect change…
Sometimes they don’t understand and sometimes they do, but they’d rather sit at home without pushing these issues. For me, when I raise these issues I always have a backlash in terms of ‘you should just stick to football’ but it is not about that. There are problems that everyone can see but some people try to hide them. When you have a voice, a platform and a following like we do, we are influential people, people that kids growing up want to be like us - and even adults want to have a son like us, or live the life we do - there are not many people in a better position than us to raise social issues, racial issues or environmental issues than anyone else. It is our duty to do the most we can with it.