The controversy over Ryan Giggs, his super-injunction and being outed on Twitter and the internet has asked some big questions regarding sports stars as public commodities and why so much of the globe hates Manchester United.

Whatever happened in this morning's Champions League final, one thing is certain: many people, including many Britons, will have cheered for Barcelona. They'd have cheered for the Pol Pot XI versus United, such is their distaste for the red colossus.

It can be hard to fathom why, especially given United's amazing record in winning premierships and other trophies - although that, for some, is enough to justify cheering for the other side on an underdog basis.

Part of the explanation can also be seen in manager Sir Alex Ferguson's attempt to ban a British reporter who asked an awkward question about Giggs and his dalliance with Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

In case, you've been living on Pluto for the past few weeks, Giggs' affair with Thomas was about to break until he went to court and took out a super-injunction, a legal device gagging any mention of the story in any English media outlet. However, the long arm of the law can't stretch down the super-highways of the internet. Giggs was outed as the unnamed player on Twitter and then on various websites beyond the reach of the English judicial system.

It raised the whole spectre of an unenforceable law - an MP who named Giggs in Parliament said that all 75,000 people who had named him couldn't be jailed - and of a sports star with enough money and clout to try to slip through a net that would snare most other people.

Rob Harris, the Associated Press agency reporter who asked Ferguson a carefully worded press conference question about Giggs, may have had mischievous intent.

At that stage, Giggs had not been named in England in connection with the 'incident' by anyone outside Parliament, even though everyone knew it was he.

Ferguson answered the question tersely with a face like he'd been asked to suck a lemon out of a dead camel's bum and then was embarrassingly caught on microphone trying to ban Harris from the final.

That, right there, is why so many people dislike United. Ferguson is a marvel and his winning ways have even out-distanced claims that United are raiders dripping with cash who grab all the best players. Chelsea and Manchester City have long since claimed that mantle.

There's a perfectly justifiable view that Ferguson was just trying to protect his team ahead of the final - and fair enough. But he'd protected them with his bland answer that did not provide the meat that Harris sought. To seek a ban was overkill.

It smacked of dictatorial control; the king ready to banish the impudent subject; a man so accustomed to the trappings of power that he wouldn't think twice about squashing a mere mite. Arrogance, aloofness and as someone once said: "The insolence of wealth will creep out."

It reminded me of another life as a political reporter, during the Muldoon era, when another knight would face the media after Cabinet meetings. Sir Robert (although the knighthood came later) was a formidable man, able to crush journalists with a withering response or two.

The post-Cabinet press conferences were (like the United conferences with Sir Alex) one of the few times journalists could raise issues with the PM.

The attack was normally led by two journalists from the Dominion (one later became the publisher of this paper) - and if anyone thinks it is easy trying to take on a figure like Muldoon or Ferguson, I invite them to try it.

Both are/were highly intelligent, media pros in complete control of their subject; able to devastate the questioner with a fierce or cutting response. Ferguson apparently leaves his infamous enraged "hairdryer" bursts for print journalists while contenting himself with terse responses while on the TV cameras. It's all part of the game; a 'mini-war', with control of perception as the goal.

In later Muldoon years, the press gallery started to hunt more as a pack and the Muldoon star began to fade. It's a lesson United may have to learn. When the titles and trophies stop, as they inevitably will, they will have to confront the fact that (outside Asia; a Man Utd stronghold), they have foes aplenty - not just grown from football's tribalism but from their success and the attitude of people like Ferguson after that success.

As for Giggs, it's hard to imagine that anyone would try to defend him in his quest for "privacy". Yet some do.

It's quite right that if it was an ordinary bloke having an affair with Imogen Thomas, it wouldn't rate a mention. It is only a story because of who he is. But that's the whole point. Giggs is a multi-millionaire not just because of his on-field efforts. He is a public figure who derives a great deal of income by selling his "image"; endorsing products and so on. He uses mass media when it suits him. Live by the sword, etc etc.

He even made a point recently of parading his two daughters on the field after a match. His wife is sticking by him, apparently, so what is Giggs so frightened of?

It can only be his 'legacy'; his image. Giggs has been such a remarkable player, still doing remarkable things at 37, and still perceived as a humble man. He will likely still go down in history as a great player; not as the bloke who bonked a Big Brother bimbo and tried to escape the consequences.

Which means we owe the internet (for all its faults) a debt of gratitude for being the vehicle to spill the beans - as well as sending a warning to Manchester United and Ferguson, himself a great, that football royalty, like real royalty, has no lasting grip on power.