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Don’t believe everything you read about Granit Xhaka

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The Times offers another lesson in how to write a clickbaity headline.

Arsenal FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus

There’s been a lot of stuff said, written, tweeted, and otherwise broadcast about Granit Xhaka in the last couple days. It’s becoming quite the debate, this discussion over his behavior and what it should or should not have been, and what it will or will not mean for the club and the player going forward.

And while there’s a lot of useful debate about it, one thing that is absolutely, definitely NOT useful is a headline like this one, employed by The Times:

Granit Xhaka refuses Unai Emery request to apologise for swearing at Arsenal fans

Leaving aside for a moment the Times’ lack of a possessive for Emery’s name in that sentence, or in its place a modifier before it, there is the issue that the headline is, as written, 100% incorrect. It is true that Emery talked at length about Xhaka, and it is true that Emery said of such an apology that “I prefer to do that. We suggest him to do it”.

But what is nowhere to be found in Emery’s remarks, or in any comment from Xhaka, his representatives, the club, or literally anybody, was Xhaka’s refusal to provide that apology. Emery talked at some length about the process Arsenal will go through with Xhaka now, and how it’s still early in that process, and that Xhaka needs to look after himself and get his head right first, before reaching out to the fans or the public.

He never once said “but I asked and he said no”, nor did he intimate that that was something Xhaka would (not) do or would consider. His remarks were all about his feelings about and his conversations with the player, and about what Emery thinks will happen next.

I understand that the people who write articles don’t write the accompanying headlines, and I fully realize the point of a headline is to make people click on it and read the story. I just think there’s a way to do that without straight up lying about what’s in the article itself.