The Football Association (FA) has been forced to deny claims that Wembley Stadium is being used as an oven to cook a giant lasagne to help feed those self-isolating during the coronavirus outbreak after a joke claiming as much went viral.
Billy McLean, a 29-year-old software salesman from London, had sent the message in jest following swathes of misinformation being circulated about the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in Britian.
Several unsourced social media posts have gone viral since the outbreak began, with many claiming to know friends of friends that work in the British government and hence know their plans well in advance of the 'news' becoming public.
In retaliation to the misinformation, McLean sent an ad-libbed message as a joke to a group of around 30 friends with whom he plays football, only to have the message delivered back to his own inbox after the gag had circulated around the country within a matter of hours.
The message said: “My sister, her boyfriend’s brother works for the Ministry of Defence and one of the things that they’re doing to prepare … is building a massive lasagne. At the moment, as we speak, they’re building the massive lasagne sheets.
“They’re putting the underground heating at Wembley on, that’s going to bake the lasagne, and then they’re putting the roof across and that’s going to recreate the oven, and then what they’re going to do is lift it up with drones and cut off little portions and drop it off to people’s houses.”
As incredible as it may seem, the FA had to issue denials to British media outlets by Friday morning, making it clear that the home of football would not in fact be used to cook the world's largest popular Italian dish.
Since then, McLean has come forward and urged fellow Britons to resist the urge to share information without any source or investigation surrounding the coronavirus – especially when those who initially make the posts claim to have inside information.
“The intentions are good but the outcome most of the time is pretty bad, it makes people panic more,” McLean told the Guardian. “There’s no validation for what’s being said in the messages.
“If someone sitting at home in their boxers selling software can save a one-minute clip and make it go viral, you’ve got be aware that anyone can put anything out and it might not be valid.”