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Don’t click this: Chelsea, Manchester United to bid €200m for Gareth Bale

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Fake news, fake news everywhere

While the rest of the world is slowly waking up to the power of #fakenews, we here in the football bubble have been dealing with the increasing deluge of it for many years now.

A recent strong #fakenews entrant onto the scene have been Spain’s Don Balon. They are supposedly a fairly well established and long-time publication, but their recent switch to hawk the most outrageous rumors they could possibly think of or scrape up from opportunistic agents’ desks has made them a powerful force in the football rumor-verse.

Here’s their latest masterpiece, from Sunday:

They basically claim that both Chelsea and Manchester United are willing to “throw the house out of the window” and plunk down €200m for Bale to make him the most expensive footballer in the world once again. Their reason? Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract extension has left Bale in an “uncomfortable” situation.

Frankly, my dears, that’s just nonsense, in both financial and sporting terms.

But here’s the problem. That Don Balon story was picked up by the Star, Marca, and others — standard procedure, but one that just adds to the noise even if they specify their source and talk about how unlikely it would be to occur. I understand their dilemma. We face a similar conundrum. The story will be talked about regardless, so ignoring it seems like a wasted opportunity (clickzzzz, baby!). But by writing about it, even in terms such as what I’m doing here, we’re just adding to the noise. I’d like to think we’re doing a bit of service by trying to reason with it, but I’m probably just fooling myself. As with your garden variety Internet troll, the best thing would be to ignore it, but that’s simply impossible in the age of the Twitter echo chamber.

Meanwhile, Don Balon were back to their tricks a day later, citing the Star’s story citing their own story as a new source for the Bale rumor. This is easily the greatest trick the rumor-devils ever pull, the feedback loop of BS that makes this whole process oh so frustrating at times.

Now that this regurgitation has been picked up by a few others (talkSport, here, etc), the loop grows stronger. Round and around and around we go.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a good solution. If we ignore it, it’s not going away. If we pay attention to it, it’s certainly not going away. If we laugh or shake our heads or call it stupid, it’s still not going away. We can’t kill it. After the nukes fly, cockroaches, Twinkies, and transfer rumors shall bare witness to the remaining billions of years as the desolate rock we once called home hurtles through space towards the heat-death of the universe.