Media reports that French footballer Paul Pogba has retired from international football came pouring in on October 26. According to UK-based The Sun, the news was first reported by several middle eastern news outlets, however, neither the 27-year-old footballer nor the French Football Association had given an official statement. One such report was by 195sports.com

According to 195Sports, Pogba announced his retirement after French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on the gruesome murder of Samuel Paty by 18-year-old Abdoulakh Anzorov.

Paty was beheaded in suburban Paris for showing cartoons of Muhammed, the Prophet of Islam, in class during a debate on free speech. The French government posthumously awarded him the country’s highest civilian award French Legion d’honneur. Macron, who has been critical of Islam, deepened his condemnation after Paty’s beheading. He publicly backed Muhammed’s caricatures, which were also projected onto government buildings in France, the country with the highest Muslim population in Western Europe. Visual depictions of the Prophet is a contentious issue in Islam.

195Sports alleged that Pogba, who plays for Manchester United and the French national team, retired from international football in response to Macron’s attack on the Islamic religion.

Even though the story was first reported by Middle eastern outlets, it gained popularity after The Sun picked it up.

It soon reached Indian media outlets. Republic cited ‘reports’ to claim that Pogba quit the French football team after Macron’s “Islamist terrorism” statement.

The same was reported by WION.

The claim was also viral on social media.

Fact check

Soon after the rumours began circulating, Paul Pogba took to Instagram to dispel them — “So The Sun did it again… absolutely 100% unfounded news about me is 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.”

 

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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 my religion and the French National Team to the pot. I am against any and all forms of terror and violence. My religion is one of peace and love and must be respected. 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 on a very serious topic this time, shame on you! #fakenews #AllezLesBleus @equipedefrance

A post shared by Paul Labile Pogba (@paulpogba) on Oct 26, 2020 at 5:20am PDT

He also tweeted about the misinformation.

The Sun subsequently updated its report and added a clarification. A spokesperson note was also tweeted by the organisation. Mirror also provided an erratum in its initial report.

However, both Republic and WION did not provide any clarification in their altered reports. Republic also published a follow-up article on Pogba denying the rumours but failed to mention that the channel had also fallen for the misinformation.

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About the Author

I’m a journalism student, based out of Noida, Uttar Pradesh. I grew up in Nagaland, and as a teenager I spent my days in Assam. I spend most of my time on the Internet, and one can say I was raised by the Internet or am an Internet child.