Speculation, snickering and schadenfreude over the online bust-up between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy — the wives of British soccer stars Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy, respectively — has reached a fever pitch, and those unfamiliar with the U.K. sports scene or so-called “WAG” (wives and girlfriends) culture have been left in the dark. Here’s a breakdown of who they are, what happened and why the internet is obsessed with their feud.
On Wednesday, Rooney — a mom of four who, in addition to her marriage to the former Manchester United star, is an influencer, TV personality, author and regular tabloid fixture in the U.K. — posted a note on social media telling fans about her efforts to get to the bottom of who has been sharing intimate details of her life with British tabloid The Sun. The 33-year-old concocted a plan to catch the culprit, which involved blocking her Instagram Stories to everyone save the one person she suspected of leaking her personal news.
Rooney then “posted a series of false stories” to see if they’d be leaked to The Sun. One fake story claimed she had gone to Mexico to pursue gender selection treatment in hopes of having a daughter after four sons. Sure enough, The Sun published the “exclusive” story.
That gave Rooney the ammunition she needed to publicly name the account she says is the only one who had access to her made-up Instagram Stories. The guilty party, she revealed, is Rebekah Vardy, the 37-year-old wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy and a former participant on the British reality show I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here.
This has been a burden in my life for a few years now and finally I have got to the bottom of it...... pic.twitter.com/0YqJAoXuK1— Coleen Rooney (@ColeenRoo) October 9, 2019
Vardy, who is pregnant with her fifth child, interrupted her vacation in the Middle East to issue an adamant denial on Instagram. Her note took Rooney to task for not discussing her suspicions privately before outing her on social media. She also claimed that “various people” have had access to her Instagram account and could be responsible for the leaks. She added that she was “disgusted” at having to deal with the accusations while heavily pregnant and noted that she is seeking “legal advice.”
Despite her denial, Vardy’s comments section has been bombarded with snake emojis and remarks like “busted,” “grass” [British slang for a tattletale or gossip] and “caught red-handed.” Some critics accused her of using her pregnancy to gain sympathy, while one commenter sided with Rooney, noting reports of infidelity in the latter’s marriage as well as the 2013 death of her younger sister, who had the genetic brain disorder Rett syndrome.
“Why would you do this to her?” the person wrote to Vardy. “[Rooney] has been through enough with Wayne and her sister’s death ... you didn’t need do that. What a shame.”
Meanwhile, British comedian Iain Lee, who appeared on I’m a Celebrity with Vardy in 2017, came to her halfhearted defense, urging critics to not “pile on” a pregnant woman.
“S****y thing and all and most of you know I'm not a fan but struggling to pile on to a pregnant woman,” Lee, whom Vardy was accused of bullying on the reality show, tweeted. “Dunno. Am I being silly?
“Stress can be very dangerous during pregnancy. Twitter pile-ons are horrendous and incredibly stressful. What she's been accused of is s****y and awful. But. But. That's all I'm saying.”
“It’s awful she did this, but is she not pregnant?!” agreed a commenter on Rooney’s Instagram page. “Surely u could [have] said this after?!”
While fellow British celebrities like model Danielle Lloyd and actress Davinia Taylor have branded a rat and “parasite,” others are simply applauding Rooney’s detective skills and relishing the drama.
Hey Coleen, any chance you can negotiate Brexit for us? Cheers— Stephen Canning 😄 (@EssexCanning) October 9, 2019
Everyone reading Coleen Rooney's tweet. pic.twitter.com/sxQ01ZyYrs— Kristian (@vonstrenginho) October 9, 2019
Judge: You're still looking at 25 years— Jonny Sharples (@JonnyGabriel) October 9, 2019
6ix9ine: The Instagram snitch is Rebekah Vardy pic.twitter.com/MK9vsJKuDe
Hi @RebekahVardy can you let me know if this outing will effect Jamie’s head going into the next game week for fantasy football, i feel it might be best if I take him out ...— Ludavizzle (@Ludowwfc) October 9, 2019
"It's .........Rebekah Vardy's account" pic.twitter.com/gPwC8LR5Xn— Gemini Kam (@kambolecampbell) October 9, 2019
While The Sun is now covering the feud in exhaustive detail, it has declined to confirm Rooney’s allegations.
“Like all reputable media organizations, we don't comment on sources,” a spokesperson for the newspaper noted.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: