Guillem Balague, a journalist who has been featured in The Times, The Observer, Talk Sport, BBC, Onda Cero radio, 442, World Soccer just published this on his website:
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has strenuously denied making comments attributed to him in an interview in this Sunday`s edition of The Daily Star. I have been in contact with Pique and he also assures me that he did not even give an interview to the journalist in question.
Read more here.
The Star interview, by David Hyde, claims that Pique made comments related to Fernando Torres and his situation at Liverpool: This has been denied by Gerard Pique.
This interview follows a succession of interviews given to two Daily Star journalists that have raised questions amongst numerous high profile figures in the media.
The Bleacher Report furthermore has written a report on the many fake interviews published in the Daily Star Sunday:
Beware Sensationalist Football Stories in The Daily Star Sunday
A Twitter campaign is underway to highlight the number of football stories being broken by the Daily Star Sunday newspaper in England. All the articles in question share certain characteristics which have attracted the suspicion of a number of online commentators.
They all contain quotes from elite footballers from European leagues. None of the players in question speak English as a first language and many of them barely speak English at all. None of them habitually give interviews to the media either.
Yet the Daily Star Sunday has somehow managed to overcome this series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles to gain unprecedented access to these players.
You can see a selection of some of the contentious stories here. All of them are either written or co-written by Ben Fairthorne:
Do Fairthorne and his fellow Daily Star Sunday football writers genuinely enjoy unique access to the likes of Mezut Ozil, David Silva, Iker Casilla, David Villa, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Buffon, Wesley Sneijder, and Andreas Pirlo?
A lot of football fans, including some well respected pundits, clearly feel that the answer is no. You can see some of the scrutiny which Fairthorne has been subjected to this week here: Twitter.
This morning's Daily Star Sunday carried a grand total of three stories featuring quotes from high profile European based players:
WESLEY SNEIJDER: "I'D ONLY PLAY IN ENGLAND FOR MANCHESTER UTD",
GERARD PIQUE: FERNANDO TORRES WILL BE ASHAMED OF EUROPA LEAGUE and, last but not least:
MANCHESTER UNITED'S DIMITAR BERBATOV TIPPED FOR BALLON D'OR.
Interestingly enough, in the immediate aftermath of the Twitter allegations surrounding Fairthorne, his byline was not attached to any of the Daily Star on Sunday's dubious football pieces. Despite having already interviewed Sneijder once in recent months and his 'proven' track record of getting quotes from famous European footballers Fairthorne was surprisingly not given any of this week's assignments.
In fact the depressingly familiar ,name of Ben Fairthorne was nowhere to be seen. All three of today's stories were instead written by David Hyde, who doesn't appear to have any sort of previous experience of writing sports stories for the Daily Star Sunday.
Why has Fairthorne been taken off the case? Could it have something to do with the simmerings on Twitter? The good news for the Daily Star Sunday is that they seem to have found a more than capable replacement in Hyde.
He has been able to carry on where Fairthorne left off by getting quotes from some of the best known players in La Liga and Serie A. Incidentally, a few journalists in Spain have expressed surprise that Pique should have referred to Torres as "Nando" in one of Hyde's articles. Apparently this particular abbreviation is never normally used by any of the Spanish striker's team mates.
There is a voracious appetite amongst fans for reading about football and in particular speculation pertaining to the transfer market. Unfortunately it seems that certain unscrupulous elements within the media are willing to publish the occasional football related fabrication in order to exploit this growing demand.
When it comes to sensationalist football stories, particularly those emanating from the sports pages of the Daily Star Sunday, it is well worth remembering the old adage, "don't believe everything you read."
Extra note: one of Barcelona's staff who also works as a GolTV correspondent has picked up the fake interviews surrounded Barça players and notified the FCB Press Office. Expect a statement from them to be released :)
Special Thanks: @Marcotti, @SidLowe, @SuperSubEditor, @WorldSoccerEd, @barcastuff for being relentless in tweeting about their findings on these fake interviews.
So, haters can you now sit down please?
Thank you :)