The president of the Spanish soccer club that changed its name to promote the “Flat Earth” conspiracy theory slammed his critics on Spanish radio station Cadena Ser Monday.
Javi Poves—who changed renamed “Móstoles Balompié” to “Flat Earth FC” Friday after it moved up to the country’s fourth tier of soccer—claimed promoting the notion of a “round” Earth was profitable.
“There is a huge economic motive for which many people want to convince us that the earth is round,” Poves said in Spanish Monday. “If the Earth is spherical, why are so many people scared?”
Referencing several familiar Flat Earth complaints, he continued: “There is a cool reward for whoever gets a photo of space that isn’t CGI. I have never felt the earth move.”
He added: “I’m still waiting for you to show me: how does water curve?”
The former soccer player also challenged Spanish science minister and former astronaut Pedro Duque to a debate on the curvature of the Earth. “He will retreat and won’t confront me because he will end up losing. I can show he is an impostor, he earns a lot of money by telling lies,” Poves said.
A spokesperson for Spain’s Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities told Newsweek that Duque would not debate whether or not the Earth is round.
“In this case, questioning scientific evidence is simply ignorant,” the spokesperson said in an email. “It can even become dangerous in matters of public health, such as those who question the safety of vaccines.”
As the name suggests, flat-Earth conspiracy theorists believe the Earth is not spherical, but flat. The baseless concept has been widely debunked by scientists, but continues to thrive online.
Supporters use several arguments to deny the earth is round. Flat-Earthers may argue large bodies of water should curve to the shape of the Earth, rather than sit level, according to The Independent. They may deny photos of a round Earth are authentic or claim gravity as we know it is an illusion, as Live Science previously noted.
Proponents offer various models of what a flat earth would actually look like. For example, some believe Antarctica is not a continent per se, but a 150-foot-tall wall of ice that surrounds a disc-shaped planet and stops anything from falling off.
Although these ideas might sound harmless, some researchers argue flat-earth conspiracy theories promote potentially dangerous anti-scientific messages.
Asheley Landrum, who studied the effect of YouTube on Flat Earth’s popularity at Texas Tech University, previously told The Guardian: “Believing the Earth is flat in of itself is not necessarily harmful, but it comes packaged with a distrust in institutions and authority more generally.”
This article originally appear at https://www.newsweek.com/flat-earth-soccer-spain-conspiracy-theory-globe-planets-space-1447044