Yesterday, we told you about Arsenal's Lukas Podolski's claims that an interview on ESPNSoccernet.com was fabricated. Podolski is a star on the German national team and will play in the English Premier League this coming season. Soon after Podolski's statement and our article, ESPNSoccernet pulled the interview, done by Nick Bidwell, which had been featured in the main portal of the website.
Today, ESPN has offered a statement to AA about the interview and it being scrubbed from the website. From the network's communications department:
"The story was written by a freelance contributor. We removed the story as soon as we discovered sourcing questions and are looking into those."
At this point, it should be made clear that ESPNSoccernet is listed on the ESPN mediazone website as one of the top business ventures of ESPN International. Therefore, this isn't likely something that originiated from the main Bristol campus, but is alas still under the worldwide ESPN umbrella. ESPN did act proactively in taking down the interview with Podolski as soon as questions about its legitimacy arose, but it remains to be seen just what exactly transpired in Bidwell's interview with Podolski. It's also worth mentioning that Bidwell has written extensively for ESPNSoccernet and World Soccer Magazine and is no unknown figure. The question of how much or how little of the interview is authentic remains unanswered and the implications to those unanswered questions are certainly large.
On the heels of Sarah Phillips and Lynn Hoppes' Wikipedia habit, this is another unfortunate episode for ESPN's online brand. You can easily argue a worldwide company as large as ESPN, with as many contributos as they have, is bound to face stories like this – especially in the online age.
But it's not every day one of soccer's most well-known players claims an interview with a respected writer at one of the world's largest media companies is faked. More on the story as it develops.