SmartLess - Listen Now: Sports Explains the World

Episode Date: September 19, 2023

Sports Explains the World unveils some of the wildest and most surprising sports stories you’ve never heard - And they’re all true. From the teenager who wrote a Wikipedia page that got a... young athlete signed to a million-dollar deal - to the Ugandan National basketball coach who was really an undercover agent for the CIA, these stories will amaze and move you at every turn. Reported by award-winning journalists across the globe, Sports Explains the World reveals the human side of athletics in provocative and unexpected ways. You’ll never view sports the same way again.Enjoy Sports Explains the World on the Wondery App or wherever you get your can binge the first 9 episodes of Sports Explains the World right now ad-free on Wondery Plus. Get started with your free trial at Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

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Starting point is 00:00:00 When we think of sports stories, we tend to think of tales of epic on the field glory or incredible against all odds, come back stories. But what about the moments that don't make the front page? Well, on the new podcast, sports explains the world. You'll hear some of the wildest and most surprising sports stories you've never heard. Like the teenager who wrote a fake Wikipedia page for a young athlete and then watched as a real team fell for his prank. As a kid, Kirin Morris loved pulling pranks to fool the press.
Starting point is 00:00:31 Then when England played Honduras in a friendly soccer match, he found a young player on the Honduran side and inflated his stats on Wikipedia to equal those of a young messy in Ronaldo. Stats, no one should have believed. But when a real major league team bids $1 million on the player, Kieran starts to wonder how harmless his fun really was. I'm about to play a clip from Sports Explains the World. Enjoy Sports Explains the World on the Wondri app or wherever you get your podcast. You can listen to Sports Explains the World early and add free on Wondri Plus. Join Wondri Plus in the Wondri app or on Apple Podcasts today.
Starting point is 00:01:18 So here goes. When I was 13, me and my best friend called Brilliant Prank calls. We were obsessed with this comedian, a guy called Chris Morris. We cleared through his TV shows, then hunted down his radio calls. We even joined his fan forum. The veterinary surgery. I need advice from somebody. I've got a tortoise in a bad situation here.
Starting point is 00:01:40 It got sent to me through the post. The tortoise. Yeah, and my colleague basically took it out of its shell. Morris had this unbelievable knack for getting his subjects on the hook and tying them up in knots. Time and again, he tricked politicians, TV stars and athletes into saying shocking, unbelievable things. Morris was a genius. All his tricks and pranks, even the really stupid ones, had a deeper meaning, exposing just how shady and self-serving Britain's elites could be.
Starting point is 00:02:10 I, on the other hand, was not a genius. I was just a kid, and I didn't perceive the depth in Morris' humour. The only thing me and my friends learned from him was that you could just phone people up and lie to them for fun. Our next target, naturally, was football. In the few crazy months of the summer transfer window, the whole sport becomes a hive of rumors and whispers. And we knew that we could prey on some gullible journalists
Starting point is 00:02:35 craving their next scoop. So we hatched a rumor that was tailored to catch a reporter's eye, surprising enough to be funny, but not so far fetches to be ridiculous. The Chris Morris sweet spot. For us, that was the veteran French centre-back William Gallas, swapping Arsenal for the unglamorous Birmingham city. First, we made a fake booking at a fancy hotel under Gallas' name.
Starting point is 00:02:57 Then, we called all the local papers and told them that Gallas was about to sign for Birmingham, having heard from our friend of the hotel reception desk. The fate was set. Now, all we had to do was wait. The next morning, Birmingham's manager Alex McCleish was quizzed by the anchors on Sky Sports News and forced to deny an interest in signing GALAS. No, nothing on that. I've got two young Senents and a half, and it's not that I move from me, I need to spend my money on other positions to improve things. We laughed our heads off. The whole scheme began to feel like a little teenage side skill, like forging a grade or flashing a fake ID. Dumb, slightly illegal, but somehow pretty
Starting point is 00:03:40 forgivable. And now we've made a dent with the British press, we wanted to go even bigger. So this time, instead of picking someone who was already famous, we decided to use our skills to make our own superstar. It was 2012, the summer of the London Olympics, and my friend and I were watching Honduras take on Moroccan. Playing in the midfield that day was Lopez. We'd never heard of him before, but reading Wikipedia, we found that he was 20, had just
Starting point is 00:04:13 broken into the national side, and played for CD Olympia, a professional club in Honduras. Perfect, we thought. Alex Lopez looked like our new star. Our plan was to try and sell him to an English club that had signed a lot of Honduran's. We're gonna athletic. But before we did that, we needed to give him a makeover. Diving into his Wikipedia page, we turned three career goals into eleven. Now, they had a twenty new assists for good measure. We gave him fake trials at big clubs like Napoli, Malaga and Tottenham Hotspur.
Starting point is 00:04:46 And to top it all off, we wrote that Olympia's fans had given him a nickname, the Honduran Maradona. His profile was complete, so we followed the Galas playable, phoning newspapers and pretending to be journalists, agents, club doctor, even a friend of the club doctor. By the end of the night, we duped the Times of London, one of the biggest newspapers in the UK, to print our nonsense. We can athletic have agreed a 2.5 million pound deal for Alexander Lopez. The fake story even made it back to the papers in Honduras.
Starting point is 00:05:20 We were unstoppable. We'd done it again. Over the next year, we kept boosting Lopez's online profile. Soon enough, Lopez had 18 goals and 34 assists, having barely reached his 20s. Figures that put him alongside Messi and Ronaldo. Figures that nobody would or should have believed. Then just over a year after the Times fell for our prank, we saw a press release from an American MLS club, the Houston Dynamo, that blew our minds. The Dynamo were proud to announce the signing of a young international with a bright future for a transfer fee of a million dollars. This player had, wait for it, 18 goals and 34 assists, and he would, like any Maccurial playmaker, be wearing the number 10 shirt for the Dynamo.
Starting point is 00:06:16 On their homepage was a smiling Alex Lopez, and fanbords and forums were crazy with excitement about the arrival of the Honduran Maradona.

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