A satirical article appears to be the source of a story published in the Times of London newspaper that Qatar would be wooing major sports teams to a newly formed summer tournament with enormous sums of money.
On Twitter, French spoof website Les Cahiers du Football today announced the story ”came entirely from our imagination… We apologise in advance if Doha finds the idea sufficiently interesting to implement it #DreamFootballLeague.”
UPDATE | 9:30pm:
The Qatar Football Association has issued a statement denying the veracity of the Times’ report:
The Qatar Football Association and other Qatari football entities can categorically confirm that we have no involvement in any such initiative and has heard nothing to suggest such a concept is genuine.
Meanwhile, the Times is standing behind its story, saying its chief soccer correspondent Oliver Kay had been working on the piece long before the satire was posted.
“I’ve been amused by the speculation about the source of this story,” Kay told Reuters after a day of intense internet claim and counter-claim. “I can guarantee you 100 percent, 1,000 percent, 175 million percent, that my story had nothing to do with any website, spoof or otherwise.
UPDATE | 3:10pm:
Here’s what the Independent is now saying:
Oliver Kay’s story was spread across three pages, but its inspiration appears to lie in a spoof French article by website Les Cahiers du Football, with almost all the details in The Times found within their story of March 10. The site themselves have subsequently tweeted that their story “came entirely from our imagination.”
“We apologise in advance,” they added, “if Doha finds the idea sufficiently interesting to implement it #DreamFootballLeague.” Amongst the details common to both stories were that the organisers aim to begin the tournament in 2015, and stage it every two years. It would be held in the summer at six cities across the Gulf.
UPDATE | 3:06pm: Reports are emerging that the Times’ original story about the DFL are not true.
Qatar Dream League story is definitely a hoax, I’ve had it confirmed @oliverkaytimes
We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.
Qatar is reportedly forming a “Dream Football League” and wooing some of the world’s top clubs to compete in the tournament with astounding sums of money, media reports state.
According to the plans, which Qatar will officially unveil next month, some 24 teams, including 16 permanent members and eight invited clubs, will play in a DFL tournament in Qatar and other GCC countries every other summer starting in 2015, the Telegraph reports.
Four English teams – Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea – will reportedly be offered up to $261.8 million each just to compete. To put that in perspective, Chelsea earned $70.1 million for winning the Champions League last season.
The goal of forming DSL could be to establish Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, as a powerful player in club football, the Times, which broke the story, states.
According to Yahoo Sports blogger Brooks Peck:
Since winning its World Cup bid, Qatar has quickly gotten involved with some of Europe’s biggest clubs through a variety of avenues like serving as Barcelona’s shirt sponsor, inviting the likes of Man United and Milan to train at their state of the art facilities and owning PSG. If this competition becomes a reality (and that remains a big “if”), it would serve as a clear reason as to why Qatar has been establishing those relationships.
Credit: Photo by Doha Stadium Plus