It’s funny how life doesn’t always turn out quite how you’d like. Take teenage football sensation Masal Bugduv for example. As recently as 2009 the then 16-year-old Moldovan international was number 30 on The Times’ list of Football’s Top 50 Rising Stars and was being lined up for a move to the Premier League having attracted interest from the likes of Arsenal, Sunderland and Manchester City. Yet where is he now?
I’ll tell you: nowhere. You see, Masal Bugduv doesn’t exist. I know the first question on your mind will be ‘how pissed off must players number 31 to 50 be knowing they’d been bested by someone who is no more real than the tooth fairy?’ but the second, equally troubling, question is how the hell did a non-existent player become real in the minds of the mainstream media?
Bugduv was the end-product of an elaborate hoax. Over the period of around six months in late 2008 the hoaxer (or hoaxers) used fan message boards to develop the narrative of Bugduv’s talent and the supposed growing interest from English clubs and fake AP news stories were even created quoting a fictional Moldovan newspaper Mo Thon (that should have been a fairly loud alarm bell to any journalist bothering to check as in Irish Mo Thon means ‘My Arse’).
Some of these early posts did elicit scepticism with one comment simply and correctly stating: “There is no such player as Masal Bugduv”. Despite this in September 2008 goal.com mentioned the attention Bugduv was getting in their preview of the forthcoming Latvia-Moldova match.