Last week, I wrote an article about how midfielder Sebastian Cristoforo had requested a move away from Fiorentina. It was a pretty standard piece: I read the rumor on a couple of different Fiorentina news sites, tracked it to its source, and realized that it was all fairly logical, so I went ahead and hammered out 4 paragraphs. I didn’t expect a whole lot of interest in this one, honestly, as Cristoforo has been a peripheral figure at the club and, with all the other midfielders who’ve recently joined, it made sense that he’d want a chance to compete for a starting role elsewhere.
That evening, the Viola Nation Twitter account got a direct message (an email via Twitter for those of you who aren’t familiar) from the verified Sebastian Cristoforo account, which was pretty wild for me. The closest I’d ever come to interacting with a Fiorentina player online was when Giuseppe Rossi’s girlfriend liked one of our posts (it was very exciting). That a professional footballer was contacting our little website about anything felt pretty surreal.
The message briefly explained that the story I’d written was untrue. That was a gut punch, frankly; the first time I’d ever gotten a player’s attention was to have him tell me that I screwed up. This is not a great feeling. Anyways, I responded that I would happily correct the story and publish a mea culpa when I had a moment—I’ve been traveling for the past few days and haven’t really had a chance to sit down at the computer until now. I also asked if I could screenshot the conversation and use it as proof; I love this website and am very proud of what we’ve made it, but I don’t think we’ve ever broken a news story, which isn’t surprising since none of us who write here are actual journalists with access to the team.
This is the point that things got even stranger. The curt response was that no, I was not allowed to publish the conversation. And that was it. The end.
That kind of put me in a bind. I’d just gotten a piece of (almost entirely inconsequential) news and now I couldn’t cite my source. I mean, it’s unlikely that I’d make this whole thing up, yeah, but people make stuff up on the internet all the damn time. Without proof of the conversation, I felt like I couldn’t really act on it without qualifying everything pretty well to death and rendering the whole exercise pointless.
So I guess this is a compromise. I’m not going to publish a conversation that my interlocutor requested to keep unpublished. However, as a website that reports news—or, more realistically, translates and comments on news—I don’t feel comfortable just deleting the original article, especially since there are a multitude of similar articles still out on the internet, and from reasonably reputable sources, that were published around the same time. Heck, ViolaNews (which is one of the more reliable Fiorentina fan sites) published an update on the story a couple of days ago. None of these sites have printed retractions or updates or anything. Why us?
I honestly don’t know. It might be that, due to an SB Nation deal with NewsNow and some other SEO optimators/aggregators, ours is one of the one that shows up when you Google “Sebastian Cristoforo” and go to the News tab. Then again, Google knows that I frequently search for stuff on Viola Nation and might be customizing its results to my past actions. Maybe he contacted ViolaNews and Fiorentina.it and all the other ones and they simply ignored the request.
I think that there are two takeaways from this. The first is that the internet is a large and mysterious and sometimes genuinely unnerving place, and you never know who’s out there watching. Viola Nation is a really big deal to me (and to a lot of you, I suspect), but realistically, we’re probably nothing more than the second-biggest non-Italian language online community centered around the seventh most popular team in the third or fourth most popular league in the world. For context, we have about 2,600 Twitter followers; this account that offers free crocheting tips has nearly ten times as many. What I’m saying is that we’re not exactly heavy hitters at VN, and yet someone still noticed us. Not sure if that’s exciting or frightening, but it’s what happened.
The second thing is that the transfer market is very, very complicated, and that the general public (that’s us!) have almost none of the information that players, managers, agents, sporting directors, and other folks who actually work in this field have access to every day. Just because I see a rumor posted on several sites and I think it makes sense doesn’t mean that it’s in any way true. We all know this, but it’s really easy to forget, especially during a lull in the market when Pantaleo Corvino doesn’t seem to be doing anything. Behind that apparent inactivity, though, is a full-scale campaign being waged by pretty much everyone in the business, all of them trying to maximize or minimize value, spread discord or sew bonhomie, involve the fans or keep them in the dark. For a fan site that’s run out of living rooms and basements by a bunch of amateurs, it’s way too much to handle.
So let’s just sit back and enjoy the market, and also enjoy the the fact that somebody is watching what happens on here.