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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Big questions for Matt Hughes of the Times to answer about his Henry story

The Times is a world's respected newspaper which, it should be assumed, is more interested in scrupulous journalism than their tabloid counterparts. But this assumption appears to be blown out of the water if you check out today's article written by a Matt Hughes titled "Henry is ours, says Barcelona". This report has led to Sky Sports.com, ITV.com, etc. predictably jumping on the recurring 'Henry will leave' bandwagon this morning.

The opening paragraph of Hughes story says: "BARCELONA have raised the stakes in the battle for Thierry Henry by claiming to have secured the services of the Arsenal striker. Sources close to Joan Laporta, the Barcelona president, have told Spanish journalists that the club have reached a verbal agreement with the Frenchman to join them in the summer."

A journalist's primary responsibility should be to inform the public on the truth of things. So why did Matt Hughes tell the Times readers that the allegations made originated from 'journalists', when in fact it appears to have been from Barcelona supporting bloggers of an unofficial blog on Barcelona - FC Barcelonablog.com - who published a post on Tuesday, 14 March making the 'verbal agreement' allegations.

The FC Barcelonablog is different from EFT in that it looks to be heavily commercial orientated, as indicated by the mass of adverts on their site. They are part of bigblogmedia.com, whose stated desire is to create as much visitor traffic as possible to gain revenue. Further, the writer of the 14 March post is the director of their Spanish department.

Who are bigblogmedia.com? Are they more interested in attracting as many visitors as possible to their site with unsubstatiated rumours so to increase revenues as they are in telling the truth? Can we really believe what they have to say? Is their stated 'inside source' fiction or fact? If he is real, is he reliable?

Did Matt Hughes investigate for himself the answers to any of these questions? If he didn't, which is my fear, is it right to write a report in a respected national newspaper based on such dubious foundations, and to start the report by saying 'Barcelona have claimed'?

My fear is that Matt Hughes conveniently ignored all these doubts so to please his boss by getting a highly dubious yet sensational sounding story into the paper that can bolster sales during a slow football-news week. Such blatant disregard for giving reliable and credible information to the public is, if my doubts are true, completely woeful.

26 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your writing is fantastic - you should write for The Times. I agree with you.

John MH

3/16/2006 3:32 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think The Times article weren't as forward as that and later they damned Barcelona regarding this and stated the whole thing had no foundation.

3/16/2006 3:38 pm

 
Anonymous Arse de Suecia said...

Good comment!

3/16/2006 3:43 pm

 
Anonymous icey said...

Why don't you call Barca and ask them to comment on the Hughes Story? Their denial will pile the pressure on him to not turn the Times into a tabloid. Does EFT have journalistic ambitions, or is this just comment?

However, Hughes only says "sources close to LaPorta", so why have you made the leap that these sources must be some dodgy blog? Just b/c the story came out over NewsNow around the same time? You have to establish that Hughes actually got his information from the blog, which you cannot (maybe you can?). So why tarnish the reputation of a good sports writer?

3/16/2006 3:47 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

Thaks, T, thorough reading that emanates your displeasure in regard to what seems to be a loose story regarding your club and talisman.

If I maybe so bold, T is not one to follow on media stories as they can very well culminate into nothing a good percentage of the time. With the broadsheets, however, one would expect a good element of truth in the reporting, sports is no exception. Had this been a tabloid, a dose of salt would probably suffice, but from a Times journalist, it becomes questionable.

I haven't look into 'FC Barcelonablog.com' but intend to do so, yet if Matt Hughes based his article solely on such a source, then his ethics has to be scrutinised because practically all and sundry are mentioned on such sites and their validity is due to be under fire if or when Ashley Cole's libel action takes its place in the courts.

I think crucially Mr Hughes mentioned Barca's president made his position on the promise of bringing David Beckham to the Nou Camp, and we know where Beckham is now. So if Sr Laporta has made yet another promise of similar tone to include Henry, Barca fans should, with all sense, not wait with bated breath. Neither should we.

Until pen hits paper, Gooner fans shouldn't worry. There can be plenty of talk but until action has concluded, talk is cheap. Inter Milan were said to be interested in Gerrard, Rafael Benitez is interested in moving away from Liverpool. The boss man has said today on Sky Sports that emphatically he is staying. So enough said.

Henry is enjoying his football with Arsenal, it's something if not an indication of where he'll be playing in 2006/2007. If EFT were to base its foundation on loose talk......well, it wouldn't be happening.


RedsMan.

3/16/2006 4:12 pm

 
Anonymous Dave said...

Great post T, and I am pleased to see someone did some homework, full credit to you.

3/16/2006 4:54 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Thanks for the comments so far.

Anon, if you are right that the Times have retratcted today's article I'll be happy. I'll try to check this out.

Icey, if you look at the quoted opening paragraph Hughes mentions 1)Laporta, 2)a source close to Laporta, and 3)Spanish journalists who have talked to the source close to Laporta. So I did not say or infer that the blog is the source close to Laporta.

Further, I made it clear that I'm only raising my questions and doubts about how Matt Hughes came across this story. It would be great to know for sure what he based his story on... but as he is vague on this it is fair for me to ask whether or not it is based on the dubious FC Barcelonablog that came to Arsenal supporter's attention yesterday... especially as he repeats, practically identically, the claims made by that blog.

Redsman, not a word out of place my good friend.

3/16/2006 5:14 pm

 
Anonymous Rob said...

Great post T, and I am pleased to see someone did some homework, full credit to you.

Yeah, apart from the fact Arseblog posted the same thing early this morning. Credit where it's due and all that...

3/16/2006 6:59 pm

 
Anonymous Dave said...

Rob, Yes arseblog quoted where it came from, but T has gone more deep than that, he is the only one to do so.

3/16/2006 7:03 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Rob, I don't read Arseblog!

I noted the rumour from the Goodplaya site (so they deserve the credit for tipping me off) and then decided to do my own research to try to find out the truth of the matter.

Thanx Dave for your support... is appreciated!

3/16/2006 7:53 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

Good heavens, I've visited the FCBarcelonablog.com site and can say that while they profess that there is an element of fact to this issue, it has failed to convince me. I would look for a denial from Henry or Arsenal about it but I suspect they will not even pay it any attention. But nonetheless there cannot be any verbal agreement, or any agreement of any kind, owing to transfer rules and past precedents on tapping up players.

Also I sense that while there has been the hint of a possibility of Henry wanting to join Barcelona, there is that element of racism that has been quite an agenda in Spain and recently effected Samuel Eto'o. Henry receives nothing of the kind in the Premiership and such an issue can sway away any thought of leaving to join La Liga, I very much doubt Henry would wish to tolerate that kind of abuse. He enjoys his football, and, especially as a recent father, enjoys his life just as much, if not more.

I find the article on FCBarcelonablog quite controversial, substantiated with no evidence, possibly embellished and if offered as mere opinion, as is stated by one of its members, should actually read as one rather than as a probable exclusive.


RedsMan.

3/16/2006 8:35 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

I did find it funny one Arsenal fan on the site referring to our captain as Stevie OG!


RedsMan.

3/16/2006 8:36 pm

 
Anonymous Sven said...

Congratulation to elitefootballtalk from the www.fcbarcelonablog.com !!!
Congratulation, because this is the first time since three days that I read a sensible piece of work about our Henry "story".
Congratulation because it seems that so far only one writer has made his homework and made the effort to research the whole situation.
Congratulation because elitefootballtalk is probably the only critical writer about our "story" that has not abused us in the most disgraceful way you can imagine or has called us names that I would never ever even think of calling my worst enemy (by the way the same guys often pull the "racism" card, hmm) but tries instead to comment with some sense and brain about this situation. Thank you!
I have to admit that after all the abuse in the last days I had a great laugh, when I saw so many British news services just copying our report about the Thierry Henry situation. Funny, that some guys who started a few weeks ago with nothing can create over 20,000 visits for their blog with one story in one single day. The electronic media make it possible. Thank you, aswell!

www.fcbarcelonablog.com is made from Barca fans for all Barca fans in the world. And for sure it is not made from Barca fans against Gooners or any other fans. We purely want to inform Culés (supporters). What other sense does a Barca-Blog have? Do all the Arsenal-Blogs want to inform Spurs fans or may be South End United supporters? I do not believe this!
So, all this "they do it for traffic" nonsense is just a silly idea because I can not see that any of this brainless abusers will buy a Barca-Shirt or a Ticket for the next match in Nou Camp, while they are visiting our site. Bloddy Hell, have not heard such a nonsense since a very long time.

We, the Barca Bloggers are not professional journalists and we also do not claim that we are neutral or objective writers. We do not write for a traditional newspaper with a high national reputation. No, we have fun writing for a 2 month old start-up and we are biased and write from our own point of view. The good thing is, we can do it without a restricting company policy and there is no interest of a third party. This makes blogging so interesting and this is why you get excellent and probably more true stories than in any of the tabloids or "highly reputable" newspapers. We do want to inform, entertain and excite our readers but at the same time we believe that the success lies in offering quality. We want to be serious and not write any sensational rumours that are purely lies. We do our work with honest and best intention. I personally believe that with our experience and involvement in the football business we offer better and more reliable information than most "professional" journalists. May be, we will never win the Pulitzer price for our journalistic artwork but the Barca fans will understand us. I think they do so because they visit us again and again, day for day. We offer a great network for our information that delivers good information and we believe in it.
It is correct, that our target is to create as much traffic as possible, but is this not the target of everyone who is running a blog? I believe an increasing and high amount of visitors daily on your blog is the reward for all your hard work and efforts you put in this all. I think generating a high amount of traffic is the best indication that you entertain and inform the people who read your blog.
Yes, we do want to finance the blog by our advertising, but we will not do this by just telling lies or sensational untrue rumours to get supporters from other clubs on our site who start to abuse us.
We believe in our side of the story. Most Arsenal Fans believe it is a scam, we do not. But as long as there is no official announcement, there is no evidence for the truth in any of the Thierry Henry signing stories. But time will tell. What happens when we are right? Do all these abusers come back and apologise? Do you write a report, saying "wow, there are some guys who know their stuff?" I guess no, by the time any decision will be published, our story is old and used and therefore not interesting.
Would be nice when somebody remembers us for being the ones who where on the right side of the story.
Good luck and keep on with your good work.
I will keep an eye on your site and will follow it. Whenever I see something worthwhile linking to, I will do so!
Best wishes
Sven

3/16/2006 9:10 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

Thank you, sven, for your comments.

EFT started, like FCBarcelonablog, not too too long ago, we have just previously announced our having passed the 12months stage since creation. EFT was an idea very much considered by football fans for football talk, why our name is such, and we wish to make such talk as accurate and as debatable as possible, to encourage others who have that desire and passion for the game to use us as a source for releasing their opinions and ideas, their happiness and disgruntlement regarding specific or general issues on the game. I sense that FCBarcelonablog was created for very much the same reasons.

Notoriety raises one from an obscurity to full illumination on account of publicity following just one specific moment. FCBarcelona appear to have had that moment through this Henry story. It must be something to hear your blog site, or one's site in general, being mentioned in the public domain, much less the media. With EFT, we thrive on talk that serves to delve into specific issues within football, and where one can lay claim to valuable sources, with good conviction, regarding such an issue, it makes all the more for great debate.

However, I find it questionable when you state that such sources have informed members of your blog site or your site directly of Henry's intention to move to Barcelona, and the further statement of a verbal agreement between Henry and the club. As you may be aware, such an agreement can be construed as 'tapping up' and an offence under the FIFA rules on contacting players to discuss potential transfers. This is sensational as none of the British media, in particular, with their connections within the sport, have made any claim and with The Times' Matt Hughes, it then turns out to be a first, why it is followed up on. This follows up on Henry having not signed an extension offered to him by the club yet, and as I said above the club and the player may prefer to refrain from making comment, for their own reasons.

They are those within the Arsenal faithful who are thorough supporters and as such feel a sense of connection with the player, therefore when a source indicates a player of ssuch magnitude has potentially made indications of his own of preparing to leave the club, they feel strongly that such a source is highly inaccurate. This may explain any rough or highly critical comments FCBarcelonablog have received so far on the issue. Such a story about a high profile player will bode little with respective fans, particularly where other sources of information have said little to nothing to confirm it.

Nonetheless, if it materialises that FCBarcelonablog was accurate, no doubt you will receive recognition for it, particularly from EFT. I said above nothing is certain until pen hits paper. But in the same breath where FCBarcelonablog is found to have been wrong, then I assume you and its members will hold hands up.


RedsMan.

3/17/2006 5:14 am

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok now I’m going to give a view from a different perspective. Rumors like this will go on until Henry signs a contract. Firstly, I won’t be surprised if this rumor was started by someone in Arsenal. Yeah I know you goner fans would think…what the hell? But it cant be ruled out. What do you think will happen to Henry in the next couple of weeks? Every journalist in the country will probably question him and ask him…izzit true that you have signed with barca? What about the fans? I’m sure they will put him under pressure and would want to know the truth. Infact everyone in the club will probably be doing the same and he would be forced to bow down to pressure and go public and say I haven’t signed for Barcelona and I’m staying at Arsenal. He did do that wants (bow down to press pressure) and say that he is staying. Arsenal offered him a bumper deal to make him the highest paid player in their history. On top of that Arsene Wenger has tried to put a lil psychological pressure on him by claiming (as soon as Henry said he was staying) that Henry is a good role model of the sport and all young players should follow his example of loyalty. They have tried everything they could to make Henry happy but the fact remains…he is stalling on the contract. Why does he have to do that?? It’s simple. For some players, football aint all about money. Henry has won almost everything a football player can dream off….. World Cup, European Cup, EPL a couple of times and also a couple of FA Cups. He has tried over the pass couple of years to win the 1 trophy that he wants more then any other at the moment…The UEFA Champions League. Can Arsenal match his ambition….probably not. Only time will tell if they can go to greater heights and do something they have never done before in the history of the club….reach the semi finals of the champions league:D…If he doesn’t win it this year…it doesn’t mean Barca are the only club that will make a move to sign him…he could well join his buddy Vieira in Juve. There is a strong rumor that the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea want to sign Ibrahimovic, Shevchenko and Adriano…to name a few. If 1 of this clubs receives a good offer and decides to sell….they could well have the money to fund a move for Henry…Will Henry leave? Only time will tell…I hope he realizes pretty much like how Vieira did….and join a bigger club which can let him play at the highest level in European football on a consistent basis.

Ps: T..i have been visiting this blog often for 1-2 months now…I realized that redsman is pretty consistent and post all the time…even if Liverpool win or loose…I would like to see the same from you and your fellow goners because I realized that you come up with 3-4 blogs whenever Arsenal win but go missing for a while when Arsenal go trough a bad spell. Thanks.

-sid-

3/17/2006 11:37 am

 
Blogger T said...

Yes, thanks Sven for putting your side of the story. I still can't believe the British press decided that they should lead with the rumours emanating from partisan football bloggers... this is quite amazing and which is why I was moved to write my post yesterday! Anyways, although I have strong doubts about what you have written about Henry, in the spirit of friendship I wish your blog well for the future...

Sid, I don't follow your analysis on the Henry story, and you are so way off the mark about my posting pattern that I can't help laughing in bemusement (no disrespect intended)!

As for not posting after defeats... unfortunately I can still remember my posts after both Chelsea defeats, the West Brom defeat, the Bolton defeat, the Liverpool defeat, and the Everton defeat... its in the archives so check them out if you want.

And as for three-four posts per victory... again way off the mark. I have never even done two after a victory so I don't know how you have reached your conclusion. Further, I sometimes don't even post after a victory... I didn't after the Liverpool match to take the most recent example.

I hope that clarifies things for you.

3/17/2006 12:08 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

I see where you're coming from, Sid, as you said, and I have said, we'll see at the end of the season. Regardless, one party will be sorely disappointed whatever the outcome, and it will be a major blow.


RedsMan.

3/17/2006 12:37 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

T..i was not only talking about your post on Arsenal matches..but your overall post which included the stuff on ronaldo, etc. As i said..i dont remember reading much from you...till Arsenal beat Real Madrid 1-0...you seem to have come to live after that...I hope you keep posting on a regular basis regardless of Arsenals form...

Redsman...1 party sorely disappointed? hmmm nah..i think regardless of what happened..the Arsenal fans will be dissapointed and other fans will be laughing their heads off. I mean seriously...the captain is supposed to lead by example and is supposed to be the most commited player in the squad..but over the years...their captains (Henry and Vieira) have been constantly linked with a move aboard. I feel its a sign of thinks to come and the other have followed Vieira's example while he was there...

Ashley Cole..held talks in some bar or restaurant with some members of the Chelsea staff..

Reyes got pranked and said he would love to join real madrid...

Thats just goes to show what impact the captain has made in the squad...Henry is following a similiar pattern...the trauma never ends..every year they have to live with the worry that their captain might leave the squad. If Henry does leave..i wonder who they would select as captain...maybe fabregas? hmmm then they would face the trauma of having Fabregas not wanting to sign a contract and being constantly linked with another club...it seems like a never ending process...

Oh and by the way...Did you read or listen to Henry's comments about Vieira..that he has given all to Arsenal for the past 7 years..was a fantastic player and won majour honours with Arsenal...and the fans should give him a fantastic ovation when he comes back to highbury? That could also be a sign of things to come from Henry..that if he does leave..he would expect something similiar from the fans...

t..whats your take on Vieira's return to highbury?

-sid-

3/17/2006 1:40 pm

 
Anonymous FootyFan said...

Good post Sid,
I truly share your opinion on Henry and I am not laughing, very detailed analysis of the thought. Maybe you should be one of the bloggers of EFT?
It only makes me wonder why he has NOT signed his contract if he is 100% happy with things in Arsenal (club ambitions, management policies, player hiring, etc) and he has publicly stated that he will ONLY give his final decision after the season ends. That it self states he hasn't made his mind up yet. Of course Arsenal hold the trump-cards in retaining him after him playing there around 10 years but other clubs probably have a small margin of chance he might jump ship to them. We all will only know in a few months time for sure.

P.S- I do not know much about this site, so I can't comment as I just come here periodically. Anyway, what Sid has said is true, I see a similar pattern that many Arsenal fans have (I am not saying ALL right?)..they like talking about their team only when they win. I've seen other team fans able to talk with fair persepective irrelevant if their team wins or losses but rarely find this trait in many of the Gooners. Once again, I am not reffering to this to any specific individual but as a general statement.

3/17/2006 2:12 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Sid, again I'm bemused cos you must have missed my posts on Bent's selection for England, the relegation battle between West Brom and Birmingham, and my preview of the FA Cup tie between Bolton and West Ham at the Reebok all in the last month alone.... so it's not as if I 'sprang to life' as you put it when the Gunners beat Madrid. Further, I don't quite know why you have reiterated your concern that I write about Arsenal regardless of their form when I clearly said that I have done this in the past 12 months... but let me reassure you again that I will write about my team when I feel I have something worthwhile to say whether we are winning, drawing, or losing.

As for Vieira returning to Highbury... to be honest I don't have any strong thoughts on this right now but I expect this will change closer to matchtime.

3/17/2006 6:29 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

Sid, I have to say that T has written a number of articles here on EFT, he and I are currently the main contributing members. Some refer to Arsenal, win lose or draw, others are on non-Arsenal subjects. They are there in the archives and rest assured that T will continue to write on all football subjects, regardless of Arsenal's form.


RedsMan.

3/17/2006 7:35 pm

 
Anonymous lost key said...

Yes, T and Redsman contribute the most, currently. Regardless of the results.

Sid, I believe u made mistake regarding ur comments about T's contribution.

3/17/2006 10:02 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Thanks Redsman and Lost Key.

3/22/2006 12:06 am

 
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