Today, as you’ve surely figured out, is April 1. And instead of being outside sniffing spring breezes and listening to birdsong, you’re stuck hunched over your laptop, trying to discern fact from fiction as you scroll through your Twitter feed. More fool, you.
But while this most hallowed of days prompts (nearly) everyone to employ a bit of caution, that same sense of detachment isn’t often invoked on the other 364 days of the year. Particularly when it comes to transfer rumors.
Yes, it’s fun to get excited about Radamel Falcao joining Real Madrid, but when you know that rumor’s come up just because he followed the club on Twitter, there’s never true hope behind the joy (sorry, Manchester United fans, that salary is still on your books). But then there are the other, sneakier rumors – the ones that appear legit because they’re quoting “sources in Italy” or “newspapers in Spain.”
Football 365 did a fantastic job of illustrating why caution should be employed throughout the year. There were rumors last winter that Borussia Dortmund captain Mats Hummels would join the injury-ravaged Manchester United. When that didn’t come to pass last December, well, no matter. It had been a long week full of boring internationals, and German outlet Bild was seemingly just as bored.
Bild ran a story about how, way back in 2012, Hummels had supposedly promised Sir Alex Ferguson that, should he leave Germany, his only choice would be Manchester United. The Sun, always the most trustworthy source, found that story in Bild and built a rumor off it – but leaving out vital bits of information, such as the word “supposedly” and that this conversation happened nearly three years back. Of course, then other papers ran with it, social media dissected it, and in the end, Hummels himself had to step in.
That translation reads: “Just to be clear. This alleged ‘promise’ is simply an invention … and that is saying it nicely.”
Oh come on, Mats. We want to hear you lay into the rags spouting nonsensical rumors.
Just in case you’re tempted to think this sort of thing only happens at the Sun, think again. That tabloid actually has a 22 percent accuracy rating, dating from summer 2006. The worst for rumor-mongering? The Metro, which gets just 13.5 percent correct. But beware: even the most cautious of outlets, the Guardian, still only gets it right 35.6 percent of the time.