Arshavin is the Arsenal hitman who celebrates scoring goals by putting his finger over his lips, indicating for people to be quiet.
So we found ourselves entering the start of one of the best football hoaxes of the last few years.
I’ve been charting football hoaxes on Untold almost since we started, and we’ve had some great ones that have led the whole of the media chasing their tails, much to the amusement of the perpetrators. But this one is the biggest and best yet both in terms of its simplicity and in terms of its spread.
The simplicity was perfect. A story by Tom Lawrence, published in the News of the World on 21 November 2009 (and which had been run earlier than that as well, but I can’t find the copy, sorry) was reprinted with a bit of editing, in the Sun, as if it were a new story.
The aim was perfect as well. The Sun had run the “Arshavin will leave Arsenal immediately because he didn’t realise how much tax he would pay” story which was a hoax planted by the Mail.
And now it was payback time.
There were clues of course – no real source, no date of the interview that could be checked, nothing in Arshavin’s magnificent web site (of which more anon).
But the biggest clue of all was that it was self-evident nonsense. Why would Arshavin speak in this way – especially after he had been used in a series of spoofs that the Daily Mail played on the Sun?
Here’s a bit of Tom Lawrence’s November story
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ANDREY ARSHAVIN has urged Arsene Wenger to spend big in January so Arsenal can keep their title charge on track.
Gunners boss Wenger has been rocked by an injury crisis in the past fortnight that has robbed him of Robin van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner, Gael Clichy and Kieran Gibbs.
Russian playmaker Arshavin said: “Arsene needs to buy new players and expensive ones. All the talented and inexpensive players are already with us and the players who could really boost our power are all costly to bring in.
“I realise that if we buy a star, someone in the squad will be rejected but this is fair. It is the manager’s job to decide such things.”
Arshavin’s comments fly in the face of Wenger’s view that his young squad is good enough to win trophies this season.
His outspoken demand came during a TV interview in his home city of St Petersburg, where he also conceded his own performances have been below par this season – despite netting six goals in his last 12 outings.
Ah – the TV interview in Russian in his homeland. That’s a bit like the interviews that Cesc gives in Spanish which say that he wants to leave, or Bendtner gives in Danish saying that he is the greatest player at Arsenal and so should play every minute of every game.
Yes, well, thank you. I think we know that your average Sun journo doesn’t speak Russian, Spanish, Danish, or come to that, English.
But the main thing about a great hoax is that all the signs of hoaxisity should be there staring you in the face. And that’s why the Sun chose Arshavin again. They had been undone by a made up Arshavin story in the Mail in May 2009, so they would hit back with a made-up Arshavin story.
Anyway, this old story is now transmuted into mind-shattering Arsenal destroying news. Here’s how they go on in the 24 March 2010 version
“Well the hush around the Emirates this morning will be deafening as Arsenal players and staff read just what the Russian star genuinely thinks of their chances.”
Will they now?
No, I rather think that there will be a lot of laughter – from Cesc who has been so misquoted, from Bendtner who has been so misquoted, and from Arshavin who knows that he is being used within an inter-newspaper war.
So, let’s be fair to the Murdoch empire which owns the Times, Sun and News of the World, and congratulate them. If you search for the current story on the internet you will find it in over 100 newspapers – they were all taken in.
And if you enjoy this sort of thing, I do hope you have your copy of “Making the Arsenal” in which the Football Editor of the Chronicle, tries to send his reporter off to cover one of these spoofs virtually every day.
(Incidentally I was having a chat with a gent from Sky Sports today and he was kind enough to describe “Making the Arsenal” as “The Damned United of the Edwardian Era.” I rather liked that.)
What’s sad of course is that a lot of Arsenal blogs took up the story and ran with it, and they really ought to have some egg on their faces. They were caught out with the “didn’t know about tax” rubbish, and they have been caught out again. There will, of course, be another Arshavin story in due course – and the question is, will they get caught again?
Maybe – but if so, the clue guys is in the fact that it is about Arshavin.
Meanwhile we can have a look at the real Arshavin.
If you would really like to know what Arshavin thinks, have a look at his web site. It is the funniest, drollest, post-modernist, amusingist, what-not thing on the interblogwebsite thing in the multiverse.
The site is at http://www.arshavin.eu/en/ It covers all the stuff that should have been in the Sun but somehow their reporter missed. Stuff like anarchism, horses, broken nails, and the colour of his bath sponge.
I have to say I love Arshavin. He is a stunningly brilliant player, he is intelligent, bright and witty, and he annoys the dead-beat journalists who can only make up stories and throw them at each other in the sure and certain knowledge that the bloggers will copy the tale.
Good on you Andre. More please.
(c) Tony Attwood 2010
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