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Some Questions and Answers—and More Questions—About the Coleen Rooney–Rebekah Vardy Feud That’s Sweeping the Internet

Even if you think you don’t care about celebrities, soccer, or feuds, this story is the most fascinating—and perplexing—thing on the internet

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Coleen Rooney vs. Rebekah Vardy isn’t a soccer story or a celebrity story so much as it is a story of our time. A story about catching someone doing shady acts on Instagram—we’ve all been there. Likely on both sides. Likely more than once. (Thank goodness the app is getting rid of that incriminating “activity” tab.)

Early Wednesday morning, Rooney outlined her monthslong attempt to investigate who was leaking information about her to British outlet The Sun. The culprit had to be someone following her private Instagram, Rooney explained, because the information shared over the years was so personal. Rooney’s statement built the suspense up until the final line: “It’s …………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”

Rooney claims to have confirmed Vardy was the one snitching thanks to some Instagram trickery: She blocked all followers from viewing her Instagram stories except Vardy, and for the past five months, has been posting “a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the Sun newspaper.”

“And you know what,” the statement continues, “they did!”

It was some truly meritorious sleuthing from Rooney, an inspiration to suspicious romantic partners everywhere. The accusation accomplished what Ellen could only dream of doing: uniting us all. People of all interests—soccer fans, pop culture fans, and those like me, a person who just likes messy situations—came together to watch the fallout. We came together to meme.

Before we get to the next twist in this story, some quick background FAQs:

Who are Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy?

First and foremost, their own people! However, in the context of their celebrity, Coleen rose to fame as footballer Wayne Rooney’s longtime partner and wife since 2008, and Rebekah has been married to Jamie Vardy, a Leicester City striker, since 2016. They are what are commonly referred to as WAGs, which stands for Wives and Girlfriends of professional athletes, a term that’s been around since the early aughts and is deeply steeped in sexism.

What’s the Rooney-Vardy connection?

Wayne Rooney is Jamie Vardy’s former teammate on the English national team.

What’s an English national team?

A historically unlucky group of lads. According to The Ringer’s Micah Peters, “Despite reaching the semifinals of the last World Cup, they are still considered to be paying off some Faustian deal for winning the World Cup in 1966.” (For more information, see “It’s Coming Home.”)

Are Rooney and Vardy close?

Per Elizabeth Paton, a New York Times reporter working in the paper’s London bureau, Coleen and Rebekah are “certainly not known enemies. Close enough friends to sit next to each other at the occasional soccer game and be on one another’s private Instagram follower lists.”

Back to Wednesday’s activity. What were some of the stories Rooney claims to have falsified?

Three examples of fake stories, which all appeared in The Sun, include Rooney’s basement flooding, Rooney visiting Mexico for a possible gender-selection pregnancy treatment, and Rooney being “in talks” to join BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.

Did Vardy respond?

Vardy tweeted a response from her account within an hour of Rooney’s claims going up.

She claims no wrongdoing, and lightly suggests the “I was hacked!” defense, writing “Over the years various people have had access to my insta & just this week I found I was following people I didn’t know and have never followed myself.” Vardy says she’s “not being funny,” which unfortunately is followed by the words “I’m so upset that you have chosen to do this, especially when I’m heavily pregnant.” (As you may have guessed from context clues, Vardy is pregnant.) The statement concludes with a broken-heart emoji.

OK! Now that I’ve answered some questions, I have some of my own:

How pregnant is heavily pregnant? Why does Vardy use ampersands? Of all the stories to fake, why did Rooney decide on gender selection in Mexico and basement flooding? Do ampersands save time instead of typing “and” or something? If Vardy and Rooney “just” spoke on the phone as Vardy states in her response, why is Vardy addressing her letter on Twitter to Rooney? Did Rooney hang up?? Don’t you have to change the keyboard on an iPhone to get to the ampersand? What were the “various reasons” for Rooney’s initial suspicion that it was Vardy? When Vardy wrote “I never speak to anyone about you as various journalists who have asked me to over the years can vouch for,” was she aware of the notion that a good journalist never reveals their sources? Where are Rooney’s screenshots? Why 10 periods between “It’s” and “Rebekah Vardy’s account”? Nine too few? Eleven felt egregious? Seriously, ampersands? In this economy?

It’s ………. all still unfolding.