This was not just a crime, it was a violation. A vicious assault at the heart of everything he held dear.
When the hacker struck, he didn’t just steal Stephane Mbia’s Twitter account. He stole his dignity too. Why else would this hardened criminal so nefariously seek to engineer a transfer that would clearly benefit his victim?
He wanted to shame him, that’s why. He wanted to isolate him from his team-mates. He wanted to make Mbia look like a typically cynical and cash-obsessed footballer when, of course, the reality must be quite different.
There are some cold, cruel people in this world. One can only hope and pray that Mbia is able to learn to trust again and that his efforts to return Queens Park Rangers to the top flight will not be adversely affected by this horrible incident.
This has happened before. Every day on Twitter, users claim that their accounts have been hijacked and corrupted, usually to send a volley of racist abuse to Stan Collymore.
What makes these incidents so painful is that the hackers are often cunning enough to write the abuse in a similar style to the user’s previous tweets, matching grammatical error for grammatical error.
Some hackers deliberately seek out users with a history of racism, and often overt sexual rage, in order to camouflage their evil. And now, clearly they’ve shifted their focus to the Premier League.
QPR have since announced that they will investigate the incident fully, and we can only hope that’s no idle threat. We in the football fraternity are counting on them to clear Mbia’s name and bring the perpetrator to justice. After all, now that Mbia has so vehemently denied the tweets, the logical assumption is that he wants to reaffirm his loyalty with the club.
And how QPR could do with him in the second flight next season. In such a chaotic league, you need players who can separate themselves from the melee, using their experience to drift between the lines, to observe the patterns of play and to appear where the opposition, and indeed their team-mates, least expect them.
Though some critics, like the Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, have dismissed this languid style as “unexplainable,” and described it as “walking away from the game,” those who really know football have always seen Mbia’s class.
The likes of Neville and his ilk probably don’t know about Mbia’s class off the pitch either. He was so keen to help his former club Marseille that he didn’t even take the time to investigate his new club before signing forms. “I thought they were a Scottish club,” he laughed. “I would never have thought of coming here.”
Naturally, some in the game have suggested that the vast increase in wages may have something to do with his sudden enthusiasm for a move, but then this is the kind of bitchiness that Mbia has had to get used to over the years. It’s all borne out of jealousy.
Jealously was undoubtedly the motivation for this latest atrocity, an act that has cast Mbia in the worst possible light. But he has denied sending those tweets and we have a duty as human beings to believe him. Let us hope that his name is cleared quickly, so that he can see out the final year of his contract with QPR without further distraction.
Read more from the marvellous Iain Macintosh