Who would have thought that a footballers religious views would be noteworthy of a story? Well today four of our newspapers decided that it was. The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and the Daily Mail all wrote articles about how new Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku couldn’t accept a Man of the Match award because of his religion. You see the Belgian is a ‘devout Muslim’ and therefore ‘unable to pose with alcoholic gifts’.
Two things. Firstly, why would this ever be a news story of any interest to anyone let alone worth all four newspapers written specific articles on it. Maybe they know any story on Manchester United and football will get a few clicks, which is always good for advertising and those all important ad rates. Maybe they felt it was important to educate their readers on why this happened as many had been confused. Maybe they just thought it was time for someone to tell it how it is and make a noble point about religion and how it ruins everything. Or maybe, just maybe, they are lazy fuckwits who want to inflame religious tension. Who knows eh?
Secondly, one teeny tiny issue with the story. It is a load of bollocks. Lukaku is actually a devout Catholic. The Sun themselves actually wrote a story about it in 2014 when the striker went on a trip to Lourdes and posted about it on Instagram. The article entitled Luk-ing to God is still available for all to read on the world wide interweb. Anyone who has ever watched the front man score will have seen he does the Christian symbol of the cross when celebrating. So why on Earth did these newspapers all write inaccurate articles about his religious faith?
It is either a genuine case of someone informed a journalist inaccurately of what happened and a case of Chinese whispers spread like wild fire throughout the media covering the event and no-one thought about fact-checking. Either that or someone heard the story, thought it would play into the readership of said publications and they all ran with it thinking it would be a nice little story about religion and football that wouldn’t ever make them look like idiots.
At the time of writing the articles are still live on three of the four websites. The Sun have already removed it and 301ed the article with the new URL including the words ‘legal removal’ but the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Mail are all still happily living with their respective pieces even despite the quite scathing story in the Independent showing up the four newspapers for writing outright lies. This isn’t fake news because that term has been watered down and is now a punchline. This is just an outright lie that isn’t even a story if it were true but the lie interest some of the readers and further inflame religious tensions to a small degree.
I know this is only a tiny story and not really of any importance but it is a great example of how spreading a small lie can go unchecked unless more vigilant journalists and media publications call them out of it. The fact The Sun have already removed the offending piece says a lot. Unless people call bullshit when bullshit is spread then it leaves us in a state where the media can control the news and that is not somewhere we’d ever want to be.
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