“Cristiano Ronaldo offers himself to Barça!”
That’s the report on the front page of Catalonia’s biggest sports daily, Mundo Deportivo.
“The Portuguese is not comfortable in Manchester and has contacted Xavi through Piqué, while Jorge Mendes is already negotiating with Laporta,” the subheading reads.
That is because, even though it’s not outright stated to be a joke, it certainly is.
It was published on Día de los Santos Inocentes - day of the holy innocents. It’s an important holiday in the Catholic tradition, which commemorates the Massacre of the Innocents as told in the biblical Gospel of Matthew.
The story is violent and serious, but the commemoration is not, at least not in Spain, Latin America, and the Philippines. In these countries, it’s traditional to play pranks or lighthearted jokes on gullible people - people who are too innocent to realize someone is not being serious.
In short, this is the equivalent of April Fool’s Day, and weird stories like these are par for the course.
Besides the cultural context, a few choice quotes should make it obvious that the whole thing is a prank.
First, the report says Xavi asked Gerard Piqué to make sure Ronaldo knows what positional play is. Another funny moment occurs when Ronaldo supposedly phones Messi to ask him if he can rent the Argentine star’s house in Barcelona.
Part of his motive for doing so is to have seven Ballon d’Or awards in his house, even if they do not belong to him.
Messi ultimately agrees, saying it’s fine so long as he doesn’t steal any awards.
Every year, watch out for these stories. Don’t let anyone fool you.