Facts Matter: Soccer players didn't die from vaccine

  • Player Fabian Estoyanoff waits in observation after getting a COVID-19 vaccination shot in Uruguay in 2021. Social media posts before the World Cup falsely claimed that more than a hundred soccer players have died from taking the vaccine.

    Player Fabian Estoyanoff waits in observation after getting a COVID-19 vaccination shot in Uruguay in 2021. Social media posts before the World Cup falsely claimed that more than a hundred soccer players have died from taking the vaccine. Associated Press

Updated 12/3/2022 11:10 PM

Before the beginning of the FIFA World Cup, a post appeared to link the deaths of soccer players and coaches to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Instagram post, which first appeared last year and recently resurfaced, shows a screenshot of a story headlined, "Sheffield United players get their second jab as new vaccination centre opens in city." It includes a link to a story about an athlete who collapsed and the comment, "108 FIFA registered players/coaches have died in the past 6 months."


The entire post is topped with the words, "The media will try and hide it."

But the post is misleading, according to PolitiFact. There are no documented cases of soccer players dying after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

The post appears to be the result of a story published Nov. 13, 2021, on the Israeli website Real Time News, that said a number of "professional athletes, coaches, and college and youth athletes" have collapsed and 108 died from heart-related illness since the vaccinations began.

PolitiFact reviewed the claims that the athletes died from complications caused by the vaccine and found those claims to be inaccurate.

The first person on the list collapsed days before the U.S. began distributing the vaccine and that player hadn't received the inoculation.

Other names of athletes on the list were those that didn't receive the vaccine or it was determined the vaccine wasn't a factor, while others had died from a brain injury, heat stroke or suicide.

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False report of shooting

Days after a shooter killed six people at a Walmart store in Virginia, social media posts appeared claiming there was a shooting at a store in Chicago's South suburbs.

"Active shooter at Walmart in Homewood," read a Nov. 25 Facebook post. Different versions of this claim appeared on other platforms with one post being shared more than 800 times that day.

But these claims are false, according to USA Today. Local police confirmed there was no shooting.

In a Facebook post that same day, the Homewood Police Department said claims of an active shooter were "not accurate."

Homewood deputy police chief Kelly Strayer told USA Today officers responded to an incident at Walmart that day but it appears to be two people who got into a verbal argument at the store.


"We have found no evidence that a firearm was involved at this point," he said.

There have been other recent shootings at Walmarts in Tennessee, New York and North Carolina, USA Today said. In those incidents, the injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

Symbol steeped in history

Recent posts claim Christmas decorations in Latvia appear to support the German Nazi Party.

"X-Mass tree in Latvia. #StopFascism #StopNazi #StopNATO #StopTerrorism," read a Nov. 29 Facebook post, along with a photo of holiday decorations that appear to include Nazi-style swastikas.

But these posts are missing context, according to Reuters. The symbol included in Latvia decorations honors the country's history, not Nazism.

The symbol, part of Latvia's history and folklore, is called an ugunskrusts, which means fire cross.

"In the territory of Latvia, the oldest finds of the fire cross date back to the 3rd century," according to the Ministry of Culture's online National Encyclopedia, Reuters reported. "In the following centuries, the fire cross can be found in the archaeological material of all the ethnic groups living in the territory of Latvia."

There are variations of the fire cross, the site said. But use of the symbol as a "glorification of totalitarian regimes or the justification of committed crimes" is illegal in Latvia.

Disney not promoting Satan

A new Disney show that includes a joke became the target of recent social media posts.

"Disney pushes 'We love Satan' in new family Christmas movie. They don't hide their agenda anymore," read a screenshot in a Nov. 29 Instagram post.

This claim is false, according to PolitiFact. The post doesn't include context to show it is "clearly a joke."

The show is a Disney+ series called "The Santa Clauses" and stars actor Tim Allen. In the episode referred to in the post, the elves, during a song-and-dance number, arrange letters to spell out, "We love you Satan." Allen, as Santa, says, "Spelling."

The elves look at what they created, shriek when they realize the mistake, and rearrange the letters to read, "We love you Santa."

Santa then gives the elves a thumbs-up.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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