Modern football journalism, boys and girls, consists of repeating things, often with the word “BREAKING” in front of them, first reported by someone else. Sometimes, this policy of “break it first, ask questions only if found to be egregiously wrong” has hilarious consequences. This time, it’s ESPN Soccernet that fell for a bunch of nonsense; but hey, at least they owned up to it.
Speculation over Belgian striker Eden Hazard’s destination has been rampant over the last few days. Hazard was supposed to announce where (in England) he’s headed after Lille’s last game of the season, only to tease everyone by refusing to commit. This means that, because the games are all over and there’s nothing else to do, every soccer news site on the planet is looking to be the first to report on Hazard’s landing place.
Enter rnanutd.com (that’s an “r” and an “n” in the beginning there), a fake Manchester United official page put together by people who desperately need to find themselves a hobby (I suggest origami). After rnanutd.com “reported” that Hazard had signed with United, the ESPNSoccernet Twitter account announced it with the ubiquitous “BREAKING NEWS” tag.
The original tweet has since been deleted, but thousands of people naturally retweeted it.
— Dave Yem (@NotSoSpecial1) May 21, 2012
Admittedly, rnanutd.com is an exact copy of manutd.com, down to live links that go to the actual club site. When whoever at Soccernet saw the page, they failed to catch the subtle “rn” for “m” substitution, and ran with the story to Twitter.
After realizing the mistake and taking down the incorrect tweet, Soccernet outed themselves.
— ESPN Soccernet (@ESPNSoccernet) May 21, 2012
Which is admirable, even if it doesn’t change the fact that a news-gathering organization of that magnitude shouldn’t be making the mistake in the first place. Even if it looks like Manchester United is announcing the news of Hazard’s signing themselves, corroborating the information should be standard operating procedure.