7 social media hoaxes from World Cup 2018

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Hoaxes, lies and doctored pictures are a plague of the modern internet, so why would the World Cup be any different?

See how many of these hoaxes from Russia 2018 you recognise.

It’s flying home

Within days of the World Cup kick off, “it’s coming home” had gone from a catchy chorus in a song from the 90s to the inescapable sound of the summer: bellowed at every England game and whispered between fans as an informal greeting.

When the RAF celebrated its 100th anniversary with a flyover of jets the day before England faced Croatia, a video appeared online showing dozens of Spitfires spelling the catchphrase of the competition in a formation over London. Hundreds of people shared it across Twitter and Facebook.

Graphics and animation studio Potion Pictures waited a few days – and a few thousand retweets – before showing everyone exactly how they had faked it.

Mr Lenin

England fans have given themselves a reputation for bad behaviour at international tournaments and Russia 2018 was not expected to be different.

In late June a video began to circulate of two leering men, one in an England shirt, poking fun at an elderly Lenin-lookalike before picking him up and unceremoniously dumping him in a nearby rubbish bin.

It appeared to fulfil the worst expectations for fan behaviour but internet sleuths uncovered the perpetrators were in fact a group of “extreme” Russian YouTubers known for their love of tattoos and boisterous behaviour.

They even featured “Lenin” in a recent video, in which they offer him beer and speak in Russian, alongside a clip taken from the original bin-dumping incident.

After a difficult tournament in 2014, Brazil flattered to deceive in Russia before slumping to defeat against a far superior Belgium, who sent them packing before the semi-finals.

The day the Selecao landed back in Brazil a video was shared widely online of angry men, some wrapped in Brazil flags, pelting a green bus with eggs, stones and rotten fruit.

“This is how Brazil fans welcomed their team home” read the caption as the video was shared thousands of times.

Yet, in truth, the video was months old and stemmed from a protest in which farmers attacked a tourist bus, believing President Lula to be inside.

David Davis resigned in protest at the Government’s Brexit plan on June 8 and the following day a photo of the letter appeared online which seemed to show that Davis had spelled out “it’s coming home” with the first letter on each line.

The real letter had already been published and shared widely, however, making the truth easy to discover.

The first letter on each line in fact spelled “ADNSCR IWOAAP TTAT IC OHMCT” so, unless Davis was communicating in code, the only thing going home was the former Brexit secretary himself.

Southgate’s winning waistcoat

Another ever-present besides Baddiel and Skinner’s unlikely catchphrase was Gareth Southgate’s waistcoat.

But long before Waistcoat Wednesday took the country by storm an inspired piece of viral marketing decided to unite the memes, claiming that a close-up look at one of Gareth’s garments showed the phrase “it’s coming home” stitched into the pinstripe.

Technology firm Huawei produced the image to advertise the zoom on its newest camera and the company teamed up with Marks & Spencer to make the waistcoat for real, giving it away to a fan after the game against Sweden.

Harry Maguire’s revenge

Harry Maguire opened the scoring for England against Sweden in the quarter-finals with a thumping header and, in the hours that followed, many people shared a picture of a tweet claiming the young centre-back had foretold his achievement as revenge on Ikea.

The tweet, dated June 2016, read: “Just spent four hours putting together a flat-pack f****** desk lamp. I will seek vengeance on the nation of Sweden, in this life or the next.”

The poetic turn of phrase, the description of a desk lamp as “flat-pack” and the fact Maguire only joined Twitter in 2017 should have been enough to tip many people off to the joke but it was widely shared and believed nonetheless.

Fighting fury

Although England fans in Russia were largely well-behaved throughout the tournament, the same could not be said of those back home in the UK.

The combination of sporting excitement, Britain’s longest heatwave in years and free-flowing alcohol led to a crescendo of violence across the country after each successive match, reaching a climax of damaged vehicles and hospital visits after England beat Sweden on June 7.

Police feared the worst after England lost to Croatia four days later. Videos of what appeared to be a mass brawl in a pub garden began to circulate within minutes of the final whistle, often shared with the caption “it’s all kicking off”.

The only problem? It was more than a week old.

The fight broke out in the garden of a pub in Kent during England’s game against Colombia. Kent Police said no arrests were made.

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