WAGs, aka wives and girlfriends of sports players, are often in the tabloids for their exploits, with the women closest to British footballers bringing a disproportionate amount of drama. The extension-wearing, hard-shopping husband hunters have become aspirational to those seeking wealth, fame, and companionship from elite athletes, and the scandals that surround them are often mind-blowing.
The latest gossip in the world of WAGs is juicer than a strawberry marinating in a Champagne flute filled with Moët. Queen WAG Coleen Rooney, wife of former Manchester United and England player Wayne Rooney, just revealed that she's been behind a one-woman sting operation after seeing stories she posted on her private Instagram account suspiciously end up in the pages of British tabloid The Sun.
The post she shared on social media revealing her months-long scheme is the stuff of legends: “For a few years now someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The Sun newspaper of my private posts and stories,” Rooney wrote on Twitter and Instagram. “There has been so much information given to them about me, my friends and my family—all without my permission or knowledge. After a long time of trying to figure out who it could be, for various reasons, I had a suspicion. To try and prove this, I came up with an idea."
That's some Downton Abbey shit right there, especially if you read it in a posh British accent. Aaron Sorkin could never. Then came the most ingenious set-up in all of Instagram history, worthy of a master class in sleuthing.
"I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram Stories except one account. (Those on my private account must have been wondering why I haven’t had stories there for a while). Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did!," she continued.
Stories about gender selection in Mexico, a return to television, and even a flooding in the basement in her new home? All planted to catch her mole. She gathered the receipts showing one account having viewed her fake stories, which lead her to believe, with enough certainty to call them out to her 1.3 million Twitter followers, that she had caught the leaker, and it was one of her own: a fellow footballer's wife.
"It's……….Rebekah Vardy's account," she ended her post, employing 10 periods in that ellipses with a dramatic flourish. Oi! The goss is hotter than a bag of chips fresh out the fryer, innit!
So, who the bloody 'ell in all of Ed Sheeran's bad tattoo image archive known as "the internet" is Coleen Rooney?
Aside from being a social media mastermind who has since been dubbed "WAGatha Christie" for her brilliant amateur detective skills, Rooney is British WAG royalty. If there was an oil painting depicting The Last Supper but with Jesus and all disciples replaced by a bunch of Facetuned WAGs, Rooney would be there, one contoured-face down from the empress of all WAGs, Victoria Beckham, at the center.
Unlike Beckham and other famous WAGs like pop star Cheryl Cole, who were famous adults before they married into football, Rooney was thrust into WAGdom at a very early age. Born Coleen Mary McLouglin to working-class parents (her father was a bricklayer who ran a boxing club, and her mother was a cleaner) in Liverpool, the high-flying, mega rich life of a WAG may have seemed an impossibility to Coleen as a child. That is, until Wayne Rooney came into her life.
Rooney met her future husband when she was just 12 years old. They fell in love hard, and by 16, when they left secondary school, they were dating seriously. Only instead of your average teenage courtship, going to school dances and awkwardly swapping spit outside the chippy, Coleen was caught in the spotlight as her young lover was poised to become a soccer sensation when he joined the English national team at just 17 years old, and played in the English Premier League. Coleen was right behind him. Just a teen herself, Coleen was already paparazzi bait, photographed throughout her most formative years.
In 2003, at 18 years old, the childhood sweethearts got engaged. Wayne proposed outside a gas station with a £46,000 (roughly $56,000 in today's US dollar) engagement ring. Coleen has since used her fame to build a career as a television personality and author, released a workout DVD, wrote a column for the celebrity magazine Closer, and fronted campaigns for numerous brands. Make that cash, girl!
Where there's money and honeys, there's always troubies!
But it hasn't been all bangers, mash, and roses. WAGs have long been embroiled in drama both on- and off- screen, thanks in large part to the wandering wangs of their footballer beaus, who aren't just players on the soccer field. We're talking illicit affairs with the wives or girlfriends of their teammate or brother, assistants, sex workers, and countless other babes in bandeau dresses. These dudes' dicks swing harder than a palm tree in a windstorm. When you date or marry rich, famous, and (sometimes) hot soccer players, it's almost an inevitability that jealousy, cheating, infighting, and other wannabe WAGs are always waiting in the wings as constant threats. Coleen was no exception, having been practically bred and raised in this world.
She, too, has dealt with a landslide of heartbreaks, scandals, backstabbing and the stress that comes with being the partner of a soccer star. Since the beginning of their relationship in the public eye, rumors have swirled that Wayne had been seen frequenting massage parlors and sex workers when he was just 16. In an exclusive with the Mirror UK, Coleen, then only 20 and still Wayne's girlfriend, said, "When the story came out about Wayne and the prostitutes my life was suddenly turned upside down. I spent days sitting indoors thinking the whole world was against me. Wayne and me were eighteen, we'd been together for nearly two years and were engaged to be married. Suddenly the papers were saying that when he was 16 Wayne had been seeing prostitutes in a Liverpool massage parlour. I was just so upset, my head was all over the place."
She also noted he would never find a girl like her, especially a ride or die who essentially grew up alongside him.
On June 12, 2008, they got married in Santa Margherita, Italy, with the whole glamorous, £5 million affair captured by OK! Magazine. The two were 22 years old. Two years later, the Telegraph reported that Rooney and other Premier League players had sex with a high-end sex worker named Jennifer Thompson. More stories hit the tabloids involving cheating with sex workers, barmaids in Florida, an alleged threesome with Thompson and another call girl, as well as her husband's other extramarital affairs and multiple arrests, all leading to an onslaught of comparisons to Shrek that have plagued Wayne for much of his career. Throughout all this, the couple gave birth to four children—Kai, Klay, Kit, and Cass (sorry no K-name for you, Cass)—and have stayed together.
And now, this??!! Has Coleen not dealt with enough??
Since Rooney called out Vardy, who is the wife of Leicester City and England striker Jamie Vardy and a former contestant on I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Vardy has gone on the defensive, denying Rooney's claims that she's been leaking stories to The Sun. She took to social media to assure she had no part in any leaks, even alluding to a possible hack. She wrote, "Over the years various people have had access to my Insta and just this week I found I was following people I didn’t know and have never followed myself. I’m not being funny but I don’t need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you? I liked you a lot Coleen and I’m so upset that you have chosen to do this, especially when I’m heavily pregnant. I’m disgusted that I’m even having to deny this."
Vardy has leveled up on her hacking claim, with the Victoria Derbyshire show reporting that Vardy has hired lawyers to do a forensic investigation of her Instagram account to find out who has had access to her account, and when they used it.
There has yet to be any response from Rooney to Vardy. However, The Sun has either removed or edited stories to note they may have been fabricated and, in a piece in the newspaper, it was noted that "each of the stories provided to the Sun was put to Coleen’s representatives before publication, and on each occasion they declined to comment." A spokesperson for the newspaper also said they "Like all reputable media organizations, we don't comment on sources."
While the mess is out there for the court of public opinion, there is one thing everyone agrees on: Coleen Rooney needs her own private investigation series where she uncovers the ain't-shit people in your life doing you dirty. It's clear Rooney knows how WAGlandia operates and how to play the game.
Alex Zaragoza is the senior culture writer at VICE, who gains strength from this sort of gossip. Follow her on Twitter.