Arshavin hoax sinks whole of Fleet Street and beyond

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

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 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.

Hey ho.

Good on you Andre.  More please.

(c) Tony Attwood 2010

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29 Replies to “Arshavin hoax sinks whole of Fleet Street and beyond”

  1. The moment I saw this story this morning I just laughed out loud. As if Arshavin would say of that stuff NOW, when the transfer window is shut, and we couldnt buy anyone even if we desperately wanted to. Are people reallly that gullible to believe the stuff the newspapers run? Unfortunately yes!!!!!

  2. Calling this a hoax is way too generous. It’s malicious in its intent and I’ve had enough of these sickening lies.

    Isn’t it about time newspapers were just banned from making statements of fact on behalf of people without directly citing sources and dates?

    I think I am correct in saying this is how it works already in the US.

  3. No one can expose those “hoernalists” better than you Tony. And “hoernalists” is a not flattering name we sometimes use and give to journalists in Dutch.

  4. From my short journalist expiriance (5 years) at last I learned that news type “XY said for Russian TV” worth as much as toilet paper its printed on. Its “uncheckable” news, from “uncheckable” source by “uncheckable” journalist. Really not worth of even wasting time on reading.

  5. Tony, thanks for the link to AA website.
    You should ask him to write some articles over here. He really is funny.

  6. Having lived and worked in Russia for a couple years, and being very close to a great group of Russian friends, every time I see something like this that’s supposedly “from Arshavin”, I just laugh. The translations are abysmal, the interpretation of his English comments ridiculous and generally it’s all dismissable as nothing more than what Tony said – Murdoch’s minions making hay.

  7. Well said Tony, great job.
    I also read in some arsenal blog saying Arshavin is selfish and arrogant, who cares, as long he scored some goals for us.

  8. The latest piece is that Inter have taken out a team insurance policy with Cesc’s name on it (cos they’re sure of signing him!).. Now talk about the hoax “staring” at your face.. I mean I know that sports journalists probably run around naked high on pot picking up random coloured balls with words on them.. at the end of this ecstatic seizure they sit down with all those balls (pun unintended) and write a story.. but to even suggest that a player of Cesc’s calibre would move to a league where essentially football is so banal is laughable.. I mean what do they smoke?

  9. Well, I’m glad to say that I didn’t fall prey to this evil (snigger) piece of journalism and didn’t promptly go online a condemn him for this divisive interview.

    Not only is AA intelligent, bright and witty, he can sing a mean Russian nursey rhyme too.

  10. Saw this posted in Espinoff yesterday and I immediately remembered the story done last year. I was really surprised to see how so many people were taken in by it. Looks like SAF handiwork.

  11. Great piece Tony. We all know the ManIOU loving press like to bring these stories out when their beloved is under threat from us. They can’t do it to Chelski as their ancient players are much more experienced and less likely to fall for any negative shite written by Fergies media whores. My only concern is that some of our fans buy into these stories and slag off AA unfairly. Especially when they are whipped up into a frenzy by the likes of Talk Shite. All I can say to those poor misguided fools is stop being so gullible. The media don’t give a shit about Arsenal so every negative comment made is designed to undermine team spirit whenever we are proving everyone so wrong with our performances so far. KEEP THE FAITH GOOONERS

  12. I believed it. It’s on the internet, so why wouldn’t you believe it?

  13. As much of the media is in the hands of people who would like it more for MIOU to become champion we have to be aware of that in everything we read in the press.

    The people who come on this site know how bad the media treat us, as has been exposed on many occasions by Tony and others in their articles. I even used the words ‘hate us’ in some cases. So for those who believe the press: please, please keep this in mind when you read some “quotes” from player X, Y or Z.

    Lies, lies and more lies.

  14. It’s up there with Osama bin Laden hoaxes. They’re always in Arabic, translated by an MI6 mole in the BBC or a CIA stooge in CNN and used as a way to turn our attention away from naughty deeds in some faraway land. bin Laden is 99% certainly dead. But he is the 21st century Lord Lucan……….the story to run when you think that some REAL journo-type(usually a member of the public nowadays) is really close to producing some SERIOUS scandal for public cogitation…….

    For Walter et al who may not know who Lord Lucan was/is, he was a member of the British Aristocracy who disappeared suddenly after a death in suspicious circumstances of another member of the aristocracy in the 1970s. Spotting Lord Lucan became a Press obsession similar to finding the Great Train Robbers who escaped from jail in the 1960s after the biggest train heist in UK history.

    No doubt Tony can write us all a piece on the sorts of naughty things politicians might be caught doing which necessitated the running of a ‘Lord Lucan’ story in friendly parts of the Press…..

    The other thing in the Mail yesterday was a fairly unsubtle attempt by West Ham to fly a kite for Alan Pardew to be their next manager…generally calling the CEO of Southampton a posturing Itie sleazebag who couldn’t praise his wonderful manager without getting a real hissy fit of jealousy up his nose……..high quality stuff!

  15. never heard of Lord Lucan so thanks for this information Rhys. I think every country will have their own Lord Lucan …

  16. I might be being a bit pedantic here but it was his children’s nanny that Lord Lucan was believed to have killed on the night of his disappearance in the 70s. It’s usually overlooked but the murdered nanny’s own children are still alive.

  17. As this topic is coming to an end I am going off topic.

    Wild celebrations at Untold Towers, where yesterday we recorded the highest ever readership level of Untold Arsenal.

    13,149 separate individuals (well to be exact) computers logged on to Untold yesterday.

    The prime reason was Walter’s great story about this summer’s purchase, plus to a lesser degree the interest in my hoax piece and on the previous overnight piece of the revised list of Arsenal’s Golden 30.

    So, it’s not just you and me – it’s you and me and 13,147 other people.

    I’m really chuffed.

  18. Sir Tony, for those of us not resident in UK, the hoaxes are not funny at all. They send us through a range of reactions and thoughts until we hear different.

    The cross-referencing and digging through archives (though possible via Internet)is too tedious to do. So, we tend to believe until we hear otherwise (talk about implicit trust in newspapers, especially British ones – which we tend to still think, set and maintain the standard on factual journalism!!).

    Thus, we must thank you for your timely reaction on your blog. It becalms us! This must be one reason not to get tired of exposing the hoaxes no matter how often you have to.

    I have a question though: comparatively, how many of such negative fake reporting are directed at our competitors (e.g. Manu, Tottenham, etc). I am not trying to ramp up our siege mentality as Arsenal supporters but it would still be good to know.

  19. Tony, I really would like to see you and the rest of the writers at Untold take a crack at what is actually going to happen to revenue over the next couple of years as football will move towards other types of broadcast and also will feel the full force of P2P as the music- game- and film industry already has. There is no way that even with an expanding fan market that everything will stay at a status quo in regards to how football is watched. Things will change, and faster than we might think.

    I’ve got loads of ideas and thoughts running through my mind about this (and have also been following the debate about file sharing and alternative means of distribution for digital material intensely over the last couple of years) so if you need someone to exchange ideas with just send me an email.

  20. Hey Walter…

    Congrats, Your story about wenger calling Hazard has reached Daily Mail and other sites.. Now I surely know how they get their stories.. All they need is just a hint or a nice story…

    The best part of their story: They have cited no sources, which just confirms that they have picked it up from here.

  21. Wenger on “I did not read that [interview],” said the manager. “I think it was an old interview which has come to surface again in some newspapers who had a problem to find some news.

  22. Fellow Paul (great name, by the way) – I saw that just now on and was also going to comment on it. I guess there are some journalists out there feeling stupid right now.

  23. Daily Rag Football Journalist sitting at his desk trying to think up a juicy anti Arsenal story. Cesc going to Barca, no Real Madrid, eh, no can’t do the same story yet again. Oh no, what to do, my brain hurts. Light bulb above his head suddenly lights up. AH, I know, Cesc to Inter. Congratulates himself, what a Genius I am, that should stir it up again. Laughs an evil laugh while rubbing his hands together.

  24. The worst thing is that some of the so-called Arsenal fans have taken cue from the newspapers and have actually started to criticise Arshavin for not loving the club and not trying hard enough!

    I mean what else do you expect from the guy? He was made to play the role of a Centre Forward most of the season in the most physical league in the world. He played on for several weeks even with a foot injury. I remember he also played several matches even though his foot was cut.

    How can those idiots question his committment then? I admit there are some flaws that he keeps wavering in games and doesn’t impose himself for the whole 90 mins. But when he does appear, he is breathtaking! He just has to turn up for 5 mins, and he can turn the game in our stride. Remember his 1 goal in Liverpool out of nothing this season?

  25. We all know that the Media is stupid. But this latest hoax was delibrately aimed at creating friction in the Arsenal camp so as to derail our title challenge, thereby helping ManU to a fourth title. They are already salivating over that; they’ve even already prepared their banner headlines. Let’s just hope they embarrass themselves even more.

  26. I think the reaction from Wenger shows that he knows what the press is up to.
    I hope he uses this in his match preparation to get the players fired up to prove them *&§¨£*¨%£ wrong.

  27. Paul C, stupid journos don’t feel stupid, they bask in their stupidity. Which is why we can expect that same story to be run in the summer. One thing I do know is that they are praying ever so fervently for barca to give us a hiding then they can have more fuel with which to run with their stupidity but I have a feeling this year they’ll be eating plenty of humble pie.

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