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To Marcelo Bechler and whom it may concern: I reported fake news, and I am sorry

An apology after a truly stupid mistake

If you’re reading this now, you’ve probably read an article published on Barça Blaugranes on Friday afternoon about Philippe Coutinho joining Barcelona. The article said that Marcelo Bechler, the journalist that got Neymar’s story right, was also the one reporting that Coutinho would be a Barça player in the next few days.

As it turns out, Bechler did not say any of that, and I am sorry. And this is what this post is about. After all, this is a blog, and in a blog we can say whatever the hell we want.

What we absolutely CANNOT do is what I did on Friday. Again, this is about ME. It’s not Barça Blaugranes, the blog. It’s Renato Gonçalves, the writer. A writer who made a truly terrible mistake, and who must apologize first and foremost to Marcelo Bechler.

I could explain myself and offer some context that could make me look better, but the truth is I made a mistake. I did not create news out of nowhere and then tried to use the name of a respected journalist to pass the information on as credible. That was NOT my intent, and those who know me and read me on Barça Blaugranes since 2014 know that I don’t do this kind of stuff.

I am very proud to be a part of Barça Blaugranes, one of the biggest Barcelona sites on the internet, and the fact I am part of such a big site gives me the responsibility to set high standards for myself. I am not a journalist, which this episode clearly shows. I’m simply a hard-working writer whose mother language is not English and who tries his best, everyday, to get better. I’m also a huge Barcelona fan, and all the hours I put into covering the club and the game are only because I love the club.

Because I love the club and I am a writer, I try to inform people about everything that goes on with the club. And transfer rumors are exciting, and I was caught up in that excitement and failed to obey by the high standards I set for myself. I never report on transfers without fact-checking, but I needed to get the Coutinho story out as fast as I could because I mistakenly heard Marcelo Bechler saying it was a done deal.

Marcelo Bechler did not say it was a done deal, and once again, I offer my sincere apology to him. Reporting on transfers is a serious job and only those who are qualified should do it. I am clearly not qualified, and I won’t do it anymore. IF I continue to write at Barça Blaugranes, I will shift my focus to something else and absolutely not come close to anything related to transfers. You’ll read this from people way more qualified than me.

Today is the saddest day I’ve had since starting to write about Barcelona, because I did something I thought I’d never do: I betrayed my own principles, and I told a lie. It was accidental, but it was a lie, and from now on I’ll make sure this doesn’t happen again.

To Marcelo Bechler, my sincere apology. I never meant to use your name in a fake news story. It was not the intent. But it was wrong, and I am sorry.

To the Barça Blaugranes readers: I hope you’re still encouraged to come back to this site. There are many people here who are wonderful at their jobs, and they’ve worked really hard to make this site into what it is. I know my reputation is tarnished by this, and I won’t try to reclaim it. It’s your decision to trust me or not. I’m taking this with the seriousness it deserves, because it was a truly horrible mistake that never would have happened if I was competent. From this moment forward I’ll make every effort to be competent.

Thank you.

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