IN SHORT: After Saudi Arabia beat former champions Argentina in one of the 2022 Fifa World Cup’s biggest shocks, a rumour started that crown prince Mohammed bin Salman would give each member of the team a Rolls Royce. But even though the rumour was picked up by mainstream news outlets, it’s totally made up.
“Saudi Arabia players to get Rolls Royce each for beating Argentina at World Cup,” reads the headline of an article on Zimbabwean news website Nehana Radio.
This claim began circulating on social and news media after the Saudi team’s surprise 2-1 victory over Argentina on 22 November during the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.
The claim quickly gained attention on social media.
Different versions of it, with thousands of interactions, have been circulating on Facebook (here, here and here) and Twitter (here, here and here).
The claim was also picked up by news outlets, in headlines initially shared on Facebook from India’s Times Now, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail, and South Africa’s News24 and Independent Online.
Two of these had been corrected at time of writing. Views of posts linking to the claim number in the thousands, with one version reaching more than 600,000 views. But the claim is false.
Rumour begins – where else? – on social media
According to the corrected Times Now article, the rumour was first sparked on social media.
After defeating the powerhouse Argentinian team, the story went, each player would receive a luxury Rolls Royce Phantom as a gift from the prince and prime minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. But Africa Check could not find any credible sources supporting the rumour.
The social media posts and the news attention that followed eventually led to the topic being brought up in a press interview with the Saudi team. In a snippet posted on Twitter, Saudi striker Saleh Alshehri put the rumour to rest.
When asked whether the players would receive a car each, he replied “it’s not true”, adding that “we are here to serve our country and do our best”.
Despite viral social media posts and news media attention from some prominent outlets, there is no evidence that Saudi Arabia’s football team were promised Rolls Royce cars after their historic World Cup victory against Argentina. And a member of the Saudi team has publicly said that the rumour is false.
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