Paul Pogba has denied claims that he has quite the French national team, branding the story as ‘unacceptable fake news’.
Reports in the Middle East claimed the Manchester United midfielder had stepped down from international football after comments from France’s president Emmanuel Macron alleging that Islam was the source of international terrorism.
Macron’s comments came in the wake of the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty, 47, who was murdered on his way home from the junior high school he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine – some 40km northwest of Paris.
The French government bestowed the country’s highest honour, the French Legion d’honneur, on the teacher, who had shown images of the prophet Muhammad to schoolchildren before the attack.
Macron called the killing an ‘Islamic terrorist attack’ and added: ‘Unity and firmness are the only answers to the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism.’
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Pogba converted to Islam in his 20s and was said to have resigned from international duty after Macron’s comments, while he also resented the decision to bestow the French Legion d’honneur on Mr Paty – who received it for dying while trying to explain the importance of free speech.
However, Pogba moved to deny the claims on Monday.
He posted a picture of the story on Instagram with a stamp saying ‘unacceptable fake news’.
Later, Pogba added a full statement, confirming he would be taking legal action: ‘So The Sun did it again… absolutely 100% unfounded news about me are going around, stating things I have never said or thought.
‘I am appalled, angry, shocked and frustrated some “media” sources use me to make total fake headlines in the sensible subject of French current events and adding the French National Team to the pot.
‘I am against any and all forms of terror and violence. Unfortunately, some press people don’t act responsibly when writing the news, abusing their press freedom, not verifying if what they write/reproduce is true, creating a gossip chain without caring it affects people’s lives and my life.
‘I am taking legal action against the publishers and spreaders of these 100% Fake News.
‘In a quick shout out to The Sun, who normally could not care less: some of you guys probably went to school and will remember how your teacher said to always check your sources, don’t write without making sure. But hey, seems you did it again and in a very serious topic this time, shame on you!’
In 2019, Pogba explained why he converted to Islam.
‘It’s everything,’ he told Life Times podcast. ‘That’s what makes me thankful for everything.
‘It made me change, realise things in life. I guess, maybe, it makes me more peaceful inside.
‘It was a good change in my life because I wasn’t born a Muslim, even if my mum was. I just grew up like that, respect for everyone.
‘Islam is not the image that everyone sees – terrorism… What we hear in the media is really something else, it’s something beautiful.
‘You get to know it. Anybody can find that he feels connected with Islam.’