World Renowned Former FC Barcelona Soccer Star Carles Puyol To Suit Up For Spain’s Reus Imperials – NOT!

In Spain, December 28 is the day of practical jokes, or pranks, much like April 1 or April Fools Day is in many other parts of the world. Termed the “Day of the Holy Innocents”, it is a part of the Spanish Christmas tradition.

However, to most of the rest of the world, that is a little-known fact.

So the news that one of the world’s most renowned former soccer players, Carles Puyol had signed up to play fullback for the Reus Imperials in Spain caught many by surprise.

For anyone who is not a soccer fan, the 38 year old Puyol retired two years ago after an illustrious career with FC Barcelona and the Spanish national side.

The Wikipedia description of Puyol says it all: 

Carles Puyol Saforcada  is a Spanish retired professional soccer player/footballer. Mainly a central defender, he could also play on either flank, mostly as a right back,and was regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation. A one-club man, he served as the longtime team captain for his only club Barcelona after taking over from Luis Enrique in August 2004, and went on to appear in 593 official games for the club and win 21 major titles, notably six La Liga trophies and three Champions League. A Spanish international on 100 occasions, Puyol was part of the squad that won the Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup tournaments. In the latter competition’s semifinal, he scored the only goal of the match against Germany.


Carles Puyol will NOT be playing fullback for the Reus Imperials in Spain. But they wish he would.

The news release was of course meant as a joke. But the international media, unaware of significance of December 28 in Spain, did take interest. The  Imperials received plenty of queries from the international press, from as far away as Brazil. However, not unsurprisingly, there was virtually no interest at all from the Spanish press. Either they knew it was a joke or they were busy concocting their own wild stories to commemorate the day.

The idea was the brainchild of Reus PR Director Marcos Vega:

“The 28th of December in Spain is the same as the 1st of April – April Fools Day. The idea was mine, I wanted to draw attention to American football in Spain which is not very popular here yet. I thought of “signing” a known player, who was already retired and wanted by the fans, so I thought of Puyol because he is Catalan, just like our club.  I did not expect that the news would reach beyond Spain.”

The news release, which included quotes from the head coach of the Imperials Bart Iaccarino, as well as a “quote” from Puyol himself, did contain a disclaimer at the very bottom, reminding readers that December 28 was in fact the day of practical jokes.

But how many people read to the bottom of a story?

Check out the original press release in Spanish issued by the Imperials on December 28.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.