Almost a full day after Cristiano Ronaldo was filmed departing Euro 2012 with his Portugal teammates and arriving back in Lisbon to a reception from waiting fans, we ran the latest edition of Future News (i.e. news that hasn't happened yet) about Ronaldo missing the team plane and succumbing to the siren song of a Ukrainian aiport Cinnabon. A few hours later, with the help of far too many gullible and research averse journalists, the very fake story was being spread around the world as something that actually happened.
The main culprit behind a post featuring Ted Mendes, national team pilot and part-time strip club DJ, turning into something more than just a typical bit of Dirty Tackle nonsense seems to be the EFE -- the world's top Spanish-language news agency and the fourth largest news agency on the planet. Once they wrote it as true and beamed it out across the wire, it spread fast across Spain and Latin America.
Crediting the "Ukraine 2012 information center," the EFE's story appeared everywhere from Catalonia's Diario Sport to Fox Sports, ESPN Brazil, Argentina's Ole, Mexico's Medio Tiempo and many, many others (a Google news search for "Cristiano Ronaldo" and "bollo" (bun) turns up more than 300 results). It quickly spread across Twitter with EFE as the source.
Even after the EFE caught on and tried to debunk their earlier story, it continued to spread to Danish paper Politiken, Dutch paper De Telegraaf (which used a picture of Ronaldo arriving in Lisbon the day before atop the story), Germany's Bild and Russia's Pravda. Russia Today not only ran the story, but also produced the video report above (complete with graphics typo).
In France, a number of other sites also went with it and though the Huffington Post's French site figured out it wasn't true, they mistook our original post for one of the misguided followers. Portugal's Record, meanwhile, knew the truth all along and attributed the story to "a humor blog."
The Guardian's Fiver lamented the fact that it wasn't true:
And the Fiver was gutted to learn that rumours Cristiano Ronaldo missed his team's flight from Donetsk to Lisbon today after going to the airport cafe to buy a bread roll were untrue, because it meant we couldn't use our joke about him waiting too long to take the last one.
Yes, Fiver, it really is a shame you couldn't make a joke about something that was already a joke.
Though we've been down this road before with a previous edition of Future News about Lionel Messi that ESPN bought into, it's amazing that such an easily debunked story could be spread around the world before anyone started to question it. This was not intended to be a hoax or taken as truth. This was just a joke about the shootout against Spain. As I've said before, you better not believe everything you read because the person who wrote it just might.