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Soccer star, CNN host in cyberbullying spat on Twitter

Twitter allegedly chides Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand for cyberbullying after he takes to his feed to throw jibes at CNN host Piers Morgan.

Having lived in both Europe and the U.S., I'm often amused by what the different sides of the Atlantic find unamusing.

So I found myself quizzically smirking when I heard that U.S.-based Twitter had allegedly reprimanded Rio Ferdinand, England's (and Manchester United's) often-injured soccer star, for tweeting in a cyberbullying manner.

Here's the funny part. Well, one of them.

The person Ferdinand was allegedly accused of bullying was Larry King's replacement on CNN, Piers Morgan. This is akin to being accused of cyberbullying someone from 4Chan.

It seems the row started in a fashion seen thousands of times in English pubs, with words being tossed by mouths as wide as CNN's distribution. After trash talk from both sides, Morgan--a renowned fan of United's rival, Arsenal--referred to Ferdinand as a stick insect.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

In addition, he tweeted on the subject of potential fisticuffs: "@rioferdy5 My triceps are wider than your whole body, Sicknote. And you'd pull a hamstring just walking to the middle of the ring #weakling."

Ferdinand struck back in a way that was truly brutal. Morgan, a man of portly dimensions, has recently been trying to lose weight in order to allay some of the camera's effects on the human form. So Ferdinand offered this cruel and heartless tweet: "Let's get #piershasmoobs trending tweeps RT #piershasmoobs let's av iiiiiiiiiit!"

Should you be unfamiliar with the word moob, it's used--especially in the 140 character format--to denote some men's saggy, fleshy chest areas--i.e., their "man boobs."

An extremely short silence ensued. And then Ferdinand claimed that Twitter had, at Morgan's behest, become concerned that this exchange was damaging its image. He tweeted: "A Twitter rep just called and said can I hold back on piers as it seems I'm cyber bullying...I apologise if that's how it seems! #thetruth."

In the time it would take one to utter 140 characters, the venerable Guardian newspaper had a headline: "Twitter shows Rio Ferdinand yellow card for cyberbullying Piers Morgan." The paper claimed it was all true.

Being of a jaded nature, I contacted Twitter, whose reps (or auto reply) claimed that they were far too small and busy to comment on this matter.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

However, Morgan, a former newspaper editor, tweeted: "Can't believe media are falling for @rioferdy5 claiming Twitter reps told him to stop bullying me. Ridiculous! #wouldnthavehappenedinmyday." (In his day, Morgan was fired for publishing fake pictures that claimed to show an Iraqi being abused by British soldiers.)

He then offered that four national newspapers had contacted him to ask how he felt. It seems he had already expressed that in an earlier tweet, in which he described his argument with Ferdinand as "like Einstein verbally jousting a lobotomised amoeba."

From all of this we can conclude that: a) presenting a CNN talk show leaves you with a lot of time on your hands, b) soccer stars believe they are very good writers, c) there is nothing you can do about British men, d) Twitter is a far more useful and uplifting place to spend your time than among a bunch of angry birds, e) this was all, perhaps, some sort of joke.