‘This story has everything’: How US media reported Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy’s feud
‘One of the great soccer stories of recent memory’
Where the likes of Pele, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney infamously failed, the detective exploits of Wayne’s wife, Coleen, seem to have succeeded.
For decades, “soccer” has exported its most successful players to America, usually in the twilight of their careers, in the vain hope of dislodging one or more of NFL, baseball and basketball in the public consciousness.
Wayne, England’s all-time top international goalscorer currently plying his trade at Washington’s DC United, has met no more success in this regard than his illustrious forbears – but Coleen’s public accusation of off-pitch betrayal has cut straight through to make front-page headlines.
Ms Rooney took to social media to identify Rebekah Vardy as the source of stories about her that appeared in The Sun newspaper – claiming she had caught out her friend, the wife of Leicester star Jamie, by seeding fake information on her private Instagram account.
Vardy, for her part, hotly denied being the source of the leaks, invoking mysterious third parties she claims have had access to her account, and signing off with a broken heart emoji.
No less august a publication than The New York Times felt compelled to publish three separate articles on what other sections of the press had dubbed the “War of the Wags”.
In one of the NYT pieces, a British professor of sociology was quoted deconstructing the drama’s “love, tragedy, deception and, of course, power”.
Reporter Michael Wolgelenter did go as far as to acknowledge Ms Rooney’s public prominence was linked to ”her far more famous husband”.
But in another story, the Times’ Heather Schwedel mused on whether she would now become a famous figure in the US.
“It’s too soon to say. Anything soccer-related is a tough sell in the United States, but you never know: What we lack in appreciation for soccer we tend to make up for in appreciation for drama,” Ms Schwedel concluded.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post, globally renowned for its investigation of the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s, described the scheme to catch Vardy as a “five-month social media sting operation”.
The New York Daily News, a popular tabloid, said Rooney had “smoked out” Vardy and compared the story to a similar ruse by the National Basketball Association (NBA), which sent out slightly different memos to its teams to see who was providing information to a high-profile journalist.
Sports Illustrated described the controversy as “a spicy beef between English soccer wives” with the dramatic sub-headline: “Coleen Rooney is ruthless”.
Finally, USA Today provided its readers with a breakdown of the story, claiming that the drama was “one of the great soccer stories of recent memory”.
“This story has everything: A mystery, an investigation, a surprise twist, a denial. It’s got it all”, the newspaper said.
Even Germany’s biggest newspaper, Bild, thought it was worth covering and described the event as a “thriller in England”.
Its story came with a stark headline: “Rooney wife convicts Vardy woman as a traitor”.
The Sun has declined to comment on Rooney’s allegations and a source has been quoted saying the newspaper does not comment on its sources.
However, it did run an exclusive story today which claimed that a “sobbing” Vardy begged Rooney to believe her in a “panicked phone call”.
A representative for Rooney has insisted it is “irrefutable” that the leaked information “came from one account, and one account only”.
Agencies contributed to this report