A Guide to Today's Juiciest Feud Featuring Two British Footballers' Wives and a Fake News Sting

The Discourse

Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy may not be household names for much of the United States, unless you have a particular form of brain poisoning that comes from caring deeply about English Premier League soccer. But today, for one bright shining moment, you should know them both, because they’re at the center of the juiciest, most inconsequential drama you will read about today. Let’s have some fun, shall we?

First, the central character: Coleen Rooney, wife of English footballer Wayne Rooney, a legendary forward who was a mainstay of the English national team for more than a decade and had a long, distinguished career mostly at Manchester United. Wayne now plays for the MLS team D.C. United, which means that this story is also about U.S. politics. (DC is where our politics happen.)

Rooney is now an influencer for the most part—one of the many minor celebrities whose lives make up the daily fare for the notoriously unscrupulous British tabloids. Soccer players’ significant others (often known by the mildly sexist term WAGs for “wives and girlfriends”) are common targets for the press, and in recent months one of the largest tabloids had run stories about intimate details of Rooney’s personal life. Rooney was not pleased. Which leads us to this:

The payoff here……….. is incredible. It was (allegedly) Rebekah Vardy leaking the stories. The depth of the sting operation! The fake stories! The amount of time spent on this operation! She did this not just once, but three times over five months.

The Sun, for what it’s worth, appears to have deleted one of the stories Rooney said she planted. The New Statesman has a great rundown (with screenshots) of the Sun’s stories.

For reference, Vardy is the wife of another England forward, Jamie Vardy, who rose to international fame out of obscurity in the early 2010s, going from backwater striker on an unknown lower league team to leading scorer on a Premier League champion team and international team mainstay in just four years. Jamie Vardy is a bit of a rough-and-tumble character in English football: early in his career, he had to play matches wearing a literal ankle monitor and get subbed out after 60 minutes to make his curfew after being convicted of assault, and he’s also on video doing some classic English football racism from time to time. Rebekah Vardy is a former nightclub promoter who makes regular appearances on English panel talk shows (think The View but messier) and also appeared on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! So you can see where this is going: Drama!!!!

Vardy responded by denying leaking stories to the tab:

An iconic response!! Pulling the pregnancy card! The “I wish you’d just talked to me” defense! Truly a stunning feud.

As a final detail: Could this have been the origin of the sting?? A suggestion from a fan?

Wherever the idea came from, Rooney’s execution was undeniably flawless, and I cannot wait to see where this story goes.

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