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Top ten sports claims we fact-checked in 2023

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In 2023, Portugal International and Al-Nassr forward Christiano Ronaldo moved to the Middle East amidst controversial circumstances with his former club Manchester United. The ninth edition of the Women’s World Cup also took place in the middle of the year, among other significant sports events.

Amidst all these, some sports-related claims sprung up, which DUBAWA was careful not to ignore due to their severe implications if found false. 

Below is a compilation of our top ten sports fact-checks for the year:

  1. Achraf Hakimi’s divorce saga

Social media platforms buzzed when several news outlets and users online posted that Hiba Abouk, wife of Moroccan and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) star Achraf Hakimi, was collecting over half of his fortune in the divorce settlement. However, she was dismayed when it was found out that the football star had allegedly signed off ownership of his assets in his mother’s name. 

DUBAWA found the claim to be false. The post originally emanated from a parody account before going viral across many countries.

  1. Adoption of sex sports in Sweden 

 A Facebook user announced that Sweden had declared sex as a sport and was set to host the first sex competition in the world. 

DUBAWA discovered that the rumour originated from a group founded in 2016 called the Swedish Sex Federation (SSF). However, a local radio outlet in Sweden announced that Mr Bractic had partnered with SSF to apply for Country Sports Confederation membership. Although the Sports Confederation acknowledged the application via a statement on Apr. 26, 2023, the process was incomplete and consequently rejected.

  1. Viral bedridden Peter Rufai

On Jan. 15, 2023, an X (formerly Twitter) user (@nasirdaniya) posted a collage that suggested that the ailing individual in the pictures was Peter Rufai, a former Super Eagles goalkeeper.

DUBAWA confirmed Peter Rufai’s photo at the post to be authentic. However, a Google Reverse Image Search reveals the man in the wheelchair is Peter Fregene– a former Nigerian international goalkeeper between 1968 and 1971.

  1. Pele’s feet as an artefact in the museum

An X (formerly Twitter) user (@kongtainment) wrote on the social media platform that the feet of former Brazilian legend and football icon Edson Nascimento (popularly known as Pele) will be placed in a museum by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) after permission from his family.

A search on FIFA’s official website showed there was no public announcement on the website that corroborated the claim. There were only bundles of tributes showered in honour of the football icon. 

  1. Lobi Stars football players listening to a sermon during a football seminar 

An X page @LeaguesReporter mocked the Nigerian football league side seminar session Lobi Stars players for listening to a priest. The handler did a photo collage of the Makurdi football side with Remo Stars, who seemed to be in a rather “realistic” seminar session, compared to Lobi Stars, who appeared to be listening to a priest. 

Although the photo was taken at one event held during the club’s seminar, it is a twisted representation of what happened

Some of the pictures uploaded on Facebook by the football team were of the players undergoing technical sessions in the classrooms. It was revealed that they were being taught “the laws of the game” by a Nigerian referee, Iyorhe Shaagba, not by a priest. 

  1. Nigerian defender Michelle Alozie  is a medical doctor

Amidst the Women’s World Cup (WWC) tournament between  July 20, 2023, and Aug. 20, 2023, some of the players on the Super Falcons squad earned lots of commendation for their campaign on the pitch. Amongst those players was Michelle Alozie.

A Facebook user, Emmy Worldclass, praised the Nigerian football defender, reflecting her qualifications as a doctor and a football player.

DUBAWA visited Ms Alozie’s LinkedIn profile and discovered that while she has a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology from Yale University (2015-2019), she is a medical researcher, not a medical doctor.

  1. Ronaldo’s unveiling had more viewership than the 2022 World Cup final

An X user @the_marcoll_boy wrote on the microblogging platform that Christiano Ronaldo’s unveiling at Al-Nassr earned more views than the 2022 World Cup.

A report by Trenddetail shared that five channels – Saudi Sports, 1SSC Saudi sports channels, Bein Sports news channel, Abu Dhabi Sports Channel, and Sports TV Portuguese channel) would televise the unveiling. However, there was still no tally of the number of viewers.

Moreover, no evidence shows that three billion (more than 37 per cent of the world’s population) watched Mr Ronaldo’s unveiling. 

  1. England star Lauren James was banned from playing in the World Cup tournament

A Facebook user, Bem Raphael Aondongu, posted that England international Lauren James had been banned from the Women’s World Cup tournament while it was still underway.

Ms James had been punished with a red card after stepping on Nigerian defender Michelle Alozie in their round-of-16 encounter.

However, an update by Yahoo! News noted that the England forward was only given a twomatch ban due to getting booked. 

Reuters quotes FIFA regarding the issue, saying, “The suspension will be served for the FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-final and the next international fixture following that.”

  1. Onome Ebi is the first African to attend six World Cup tournaments

A Facebook user, Seraph Yomi, posted that Super Falcon’s centre defender, Onome Ebi, is the first African player to have appeared in six World Cup tournament outings at 40.

DUBAWA found the assertion to be true. News outlets such as Cable News Network (CNN), Punch, and Daily Sports all named Ebi the only African player to lead the golden oldies by participating in her sixth World Cup tournament at 40.

  1. Cameroonian football player Marc-Vivien Foe slumped during the semi-finals

Ds Football data group, dedicated to educating people about football, posted that Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed at the centre of the pitch while representing Cameroon in the semi-final of the Confederations Cup against Colombia. 

DUBAWA found the post to be correct. Due to heart-related conditions, Mr Foe collapsed on the pitch in the semi-final match against Colombia. June 27, 2023, is 20 years since the football player died.

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