The soccer phenom who wasn’t

Inside the ingenious hoax that fooled the sportswriters

Earlier this month, The Times of London published a list of “Football’s Top 50 Rising Stars.” At No. 30 was a teenaged striker named Masal Bugduv, ie. “Moldova’s Finest.” Unfortunately for the Times, and every other media outlet that chronicled his exploits, Moldova’s Finest was anything but fine. In fact, it turns out he doesn’t exist at all. The whole thing was an elaborate ruse concocted by an anonymous blogger who set out to prove just how quickly an Internet rumour can morph into a mainstream story. His theory was correct. In a matter of weeks, the blogger fooled fellow bloggers, the bloggers fooled the news sites, and the news sites fooled the magazines. A legend was born, even though the real person never was. Remember folks: don’t believe everything you read on the Internet (unless it’s on