A national British newspaper, The Sun, has fallen for a prank in a Spanish paper and published a spoof article about Cristiano Ronaldo as fact.
The article claimed that Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United and has contacted FC Barcelona head coach Xavi via Gerard Pique to offer his services to the Catalan side.
The original article appeared in Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo yesterday and The Sun picked up the story this morning.
‘His agent Jorge Mendes is also already negotiating terms with Barca president Joan Laporta, according to Mundo Deportivo,’ The Sun’s William Pugh reports.
‘He is said to have contacted Xavi ‘a few days ago’ thanks to an introduction by his former United team-mate Pique.
‘[Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge] Mendes has a good relationship with Laporta and the pair are already discussing the viability of the move.’
What The Sun failed to notice in the tweet from the Spanish outlet included in the report is the pinned comment by Mundo Deportivo, ‘Feliz Dia de los Santos Inocentes’, on their own tweet.
The 28th December is a special day in the Spanish Christian calendar which allows pranks, similar to the British April Fools’ Day.
⚠ ¡Cristiano Ronaldo se ofrece al Barça!
— Mundo Deportivo (@mundodeportivo) December 28, 2021
The Sun reporter should have smelled a rat when reading the part of the story about Pique arranging for the Portuguese legend to rent Lionel Messi’s house. It reads:
‘Piqué also contacted Leo Messi to find out if the Argentine would be willing to rent his house in Gavà to Cristiano, because the Portuguese was especially excited to have seven Ballons d’Or at home, even if they were not his. “If he takes care of the ballons and does not take any, there would be no problem in renting the house,” said Messi, surprised.’
The Sun reported this as ‘and in what would be a dramatic twist, Pique also asked Lionel Messi if his arch-nemesis could rent his house from him if Ronaldo joined.’
Mundo’s spoof also claimed that ‘although he wanted the number 10 shirt, Cristiano will become CR17, as he will inherit the number that Luuk de Jong leaves free … Before it was worn, among others, by Bogarde, Amunike, Alcácer and Trincao.’
Mundo then goes on to claim that Ronaldo would prefer to play in the Europa League because ‘he will have the opportunity to fight for a title that he does not have on his record.
‘Only once did Cristiano play in the UEFA Cup, in his last season at Sporting de Portugal, but they were eliminated in the first round by Partizan Belgrade.
‘The Portuguese has that thorn stuck in his side and considers that now at Barça he could aspire to the title.
‘In addition, he has confessed to his intimates that the Europa League is a title that Messi does not have and if he wins it, he could surpass the Argentine at something.’
The Mirror also reported the story as fact this morning.
The Sun realised their error through the course of the morning and edited the article, changing the headline from ‘Ron the Way out’ to ‘Ronbelievable’ and describing the story as a ‘hilarious joke’.