Monetising the death of a footballer: Day four

Daniel Storey

Clickbaiting a man’s death: day four
Technically, media outlets and social media accounts have moved on from clickbaiting the death of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori for clicks. Now they’ve moved onto ignoring facts in order to make a quick buck. It really has been a strong week.

On Monday, a Facebook account called Troll Football India posted that Fiorentina would extend Astori’s contract post-mortem, and give the money to his wife to support her. That story had no basis in fact, but was merely based on reports that Astori was in discussions over a new deal at the time of his passing.

Inevitably, a large number of Twitter accounts that sell themselves as ‘on the side of the fans’ saw the post. And they decided to get busy, whether or not it was true. Accounts like @Sporf, @geniusfootball, @thefootystands, @futballtweets and many others piled on, and basked in the retweets.

These are the worst of the worst in terms of football coverage. They will tweet their faux-respectful messages but with an undertone of greed. Rest in peace (after we’ve made our money out of you).

Some, like the account below, took the story on. They used words such as ‘Breaking’ and ‘officialy’ (sic) to give the story unwarranted kudos, like a game of shitty Chinese whispers.

Then, the third wave: the news accounts. Or, as they should be known, ‘those who should know better’.

‘Fiorentina extend David Astori’s contract for life with salary going to his wife and daughter,’ was Joe’s headline.

‘TOUCHING TRIBUTE Davide Astori to have his new four-year contract honoured by Fiorentina – with wages paid to wife and daughter,’ was The Sun’s take.

‘Fiorentina to renew Davide Astori’s contract to support the family of club’s late captain,’ said MailOnline.

So the journey is complete – from spurious Facebook account to banterous Twitter accounts to newspaper websites.

Mediawatch can understand the first two not bothering to check for accuracy, for that is par for the course. But how can a newspaper with a massive staff pile in without knowing if it’s true? Has the need for engagement really suffocated decency and professionalism to that extent? (Ed. – Yes).

By Tuesday, Fiorentina were forced to deny the story, releasing a statement saying that they were still coming to terms with how to honour their captain. That, unfairly, makes them look a bit mean – simply because somebody, somewhere invented a story saying otherwise.

As of 10.30am on Wednesday, have at least taken down the story (although their tweet remains). The MailOnline’s story links to a piece on Serena Williams.

The Sun? Oh they have left it up for all to see. It’s only more unsubstantiated reports about a man’s death, after all.

Tell you what would be a ‘touching tribute’. Having a little f*cking respect.


Family affair
People make mistakes. Mediawatch has little sympathy for those receiving criticism for spreading spurious stories about Astori, but things do slip through the net. The best thing to do would be apologise and move on.

When it became clear that the Astori contract story was incorrect, (the UK version of the Irish site) published a story as such, under the headline ‘Fiorentina statement appears to confirm Davide Astori gesture was a hoax’.

Of course, people spotted the irony at play. ‘So why did you publish it without checking an official source?’ a Twitter user asked the account, referring to the story above.

The response:

‘The only story we’ve published on the ‘contract’ is above, which reports it as a hoax. All our other articles regarding Davide Astori can be found here.’

Unfortunately, the internet always remembers. And it remembers that you might not have published a story, but your Irish cousins certainly did.


A cut below
What would you consider the biggest news in football today? Is it Real Madrid’s qualification for the Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of Paris Saint-Germain? Is it Liverpool’s serene progression? Or is it looking ahead to Tottenham vs Juventus and a monumental second leg at Wembley?

No, no and no, at least according to The Sun’s website:

‘Nikky Okyere: He’s the go-to barber for Premier League stars, including Wilfried Zaha and was invited to Mario Balotelli’s 25th birthday.’

Of course, we forgot about that big story. It’s another feature piece from Jon Boon, who somehow now seems to have free reign over The Sun’s football homepage.

‘NIKKY Okyere is the barber you need to know if you want a fresh cut,’ the piece begins.

And The Sun’s football homepage is not the place to go if you want insight about actual football.


Great expectations
“United make these moves in history where things can change. Obviously Cantona’s move is the classic example as well as the class of 92 and this could be another one, particularly when it looked like he was going to Manchester City. I’m not saying that they will catch them up this season but this is a major move for Manchester United.

“Manchester United are not going to go away and become Arsenal by being happy fourth, they are still gunning for Manchester City and will be next season and now they are six months ahead of schedule by getting in Sanchez now. It is a spectacularly good signing” – Neil Custis, Sky Sports, January 21.

‘The bum notes he hit at Selhurst Park on Monday night had people wincing. He may earn the big bucks but what United need right now from Sanchez is a big performance. That or Jose Mourinho needs to make a big call. And you would not blame him for doing just that this Saturday and putting the Chilean superstar on the bench.

‘Sanchez lost it 33 times at Palace. That was not even his worst – he coughed up the ball 36 times in the 2-0 home win over Huddersfield and the 1-0 defeat at Newcastle. Nobody else in the team does that. It is this wastefulness that so enraged his Arsenal team-mates at times – particularly as he demands the ball so often.

‘Part of Sanchez’s problem is he did not arrive in good form. He had got in a rut and is still trying to get out of it. At Palace he was dropping deeper and deeper. But he is not going to hurt anyone 40 yards out’ – Neil Custis, The Sun, March 7.

From having the same impact as Eric Cantona and a ‘spectacular signing’ six months ahead of schedule to a player who arrived in bad form, demands the ball too much and who enraged Arsenal teammates through his wastefulness. It has been a long six weeks.


Bods and sods
‘Moreno was not overly tested but his zest for a lost cause led to another first-half opportunity which found the inside of Iker Casillas’s right upright.

‘Apparently, the statistics bods do not count that as a shot on target, which meant there were none of those in the entire first half’ – Andy Dunn, Daily Mirror.

Damn those ‘statistics bods’, counting a shot that is not on target as being off target.


Cech, mate
There is plenty enough material at Arsenal to dissect and dismantle without having to resort to re-writing history, but Mediawatch can’t help but think that The Sun’s Dave Kidd is guilty of exactly that on Wednesday.

On the subject of Petr Cech, Kidd writes:

‘Is Petr Cech like an ageing batsman whose eyes have suddenly gone? Or might he never have been Petr Cech in the first place if he hadn’t played behind a partnership as magnificent as John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho for so long?’

If the insinuation is that Cech was only made to look good by Terry and Carvalho, that’s more than a little harsh on the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets in Premier League history. Surely it’s more likely that, at almost 36, his powers have waned?

It would also go against what Kidd has previously said about Cech:

‘Since when did Chelsea start giving suckers an even break? The sale of Petr Cech to Arsenal hands a potential rival one of the two or three players they require to become credible title challengers. You don’t win the Premier League without a world-class keeper and Arsenal haven’t had one for seven years. Yet Cech is just 33, still in the prime of life for a goalkeeper, arguably still the equal of Thibaut Courtois and among the world’s best’ – June 2015.

‘For several years, he has failed to fill potholes in central defence and defensive midfield. Until the signing of Petr Cech, the same was true of Arsenal’s goalkeeping position’ – March 2016.

Funny how it wasn’t all Terry and Carvalho then?


‘Yeah, that’s probably him’

Christian Kabasele is Football365’s favourite Premier League player. This sort of thing is why.


Naughty tweet of the day

That ‘club’ is Paris Saint-Germain, not Arsenal.


Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Liew on PSG.

Nick Ames on Milan.

Simon Kuper on Zinedine Zidane.