Article claiming link between referee whistles and heart problems in athletes is fake

14 April 2022
What was claimed

An Irish Examiner headline claims experts say referee whistles may be to blame for “sudden heart problems” in sports players.

Our verdict

The Irish Examiner has never published such an article, and there is no credible evidence of an expert describing a link between referee whistles and heart problems in athletes.

A photo, which is claimed to be of an Irish Examiner article stating “referee whistles may be cause to sudden increase in heart problems among sports players experts say”, has been posted many times on Facebook.

This is a digitally altered picture, and there is no record of the Irish Examiner ever having published such an article. 

Online searches revealed no trace of the paper having posted the article to its verified Twitter or Facebook accounts. Tom Fitzpatrick, the editor of the Irish Examiner, told Reuters that “no such article has ever been published” by the newspaper. 

The subheading of the falsified article goes on to claim: “The recent discovery has come to light after a number of sports players have had incidents on the pitch and required medical assistance, referee whistle may also be causing incident’s [sic] in sports fans attending games.” 

“All incidents are non vaccine related the public has been urged to ignore misinformation recently circulating on social media platforms”. 

As Check Your Fact has reported, there is no evidence that experts have linked whistles to heart issues in athletes and an online search revealed no other examples of a similar headline being reported by a reliable news source. 

We have recently fact checked a number of similar social media posts which claim to show media outlets reporting that everyday activities can cause heart problems. The underlying message of these posts is often that heart conditions are actually being caused by Covid-19 vaccines, but blamed on other, unlikely, factors. This fake Irish Examiner article appears to have been posted in the same vein.

The British Heart Foundation has said there is no evidence of an increased risk of death from cardiac arrest following vaccination.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has said there is a potential risk of myocarditis and pericarditis (both forms of heart inflammation) with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. It added: “These reports are very rare, and the events reported are typically mild with individuals usually recovering within a short time with standard treatment and rest.”

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