‘The Pogba affair’ explained

Paul Pogba finds himself at the heart of a lurid web of allegations involving blackmail, witchcraft and men with guns. French police are investigating.

The 29-year-old France midfielder signed for Juventus after leaving Manchester United this summer and is hoping to play a big role in the World Cup in Qatar.

But he now faces a bizarre saga involving Mathias Pogba, his older brother, who is also a professional footballer and played for Crewe, Wrexham and Crawley.

Mathias has recently labelled Paul a “coward, traitor and hypocrite” and accused him of using witchcraft. The allegations also involve Pogba’s international team-mate Kylian Mbappe.

It’s a complicated situation. Here’s an attempt to explain what is going on.

How did this start?

The story came into the public domain when Mathias Pogba released videos promising “great revelations” about his younger brother.

The Instagram videos were in French, English and Italian.

“My brother’s team-mates and his sponsors deserve to know certain things, in order to decide, in full knowledge of the facts, if he really deserves the admiration, respect and love of the public,” he said in the video.

“All of this is likely to be explosive and make a lot of noise.”

How did Paul Pogba’s representatives respond?

The Juventus player’s lawyer released a statement the following day denouncing “threats and attempts at extortion by an organised gang” .

The lawyer said the brother’s comments were “unfortunately not a surprise”.

The statement said Pogba has alerted authorities about what is going on.

Pogba returned to Juventus this summer (Photo: Getty Images)

What is the alleged extortion plot?

According to the news website Franceinfo, Paul Pogba told investigators he had been intimidated by armed men when he was in France for two national team friendly matches.

Pogba used the trip to visit family in Lagny-sur-Marne on the outskirts of Paris. He says he was taken to an apartment 10 miles away by old friends who blamed him for not helping them financially since becoming a global superstar.

According to Franceinfo, the men claimed €13million (£11.2m, $13m) for “services rendered”, protection money of €1million for each year Pogba has played as a professional.

It is claimed Pogba tried to withdraw the full amount but was only able to access €100,000, which he thought would be the end of the matter, but the group continued to threaten him.

Pogba is said to have told investigators he saw the blackmailers in April in Manchester as well as in July at Juventus’s training ground in Turin and they continued to attempt to extort money.

This is where he said he recognised his brother as one of the blackmailers, which was the point at which he informed Juventus lawyers, who notified the police.

What are Pogba’s relations with his friends and family?

Franceinfo’s reporting says Pogba explained to police investigators he has always been very close to this group and had helped them financially.

But a tipping point came last January when he said he was hosting a friend at his house in Manchester and realised the friend had used his credit card to try to steal €200,000.

And where does witchcraft come into things?

Paul Pogba told police that he had paid a spiritual guide to help protect him from injury.

But his brother alleges that he used a witch doctor to cast spells on opponents and team-mates, a claim strongly denied by Pogba.

“I confirmed his witchcraft because what matters here is not whether it works or not, or whether you believe in it or not, it’s more that it implies some wickedness,” said Mathias Pogba on Twitter. “These practices require you to do bad things for their rituals, including deliberate harm.”

It is alleged the group is attempting to extort money from Pogba in return for keeping witchcraft videos — of which Pogba’s lawyer denies the existence — from being made public.

The existence of the videos is denied by Pogba.

What about Kylian Mbappe?

Mathias Pogba alleges his brother asked a witch doctor to inflict an injury on Mbappe.

“Kylian, I have nothing negative against you, my words are for your own good,” said Mathias Pogba on Twitter. “Everything is true and proven, the marabout is known!”

“A so-called Muslim deep in witchcraft, it’s never good to have a hypocrite and traitor near you!”

This is denied by Pogba.

What could happen next?

It remains to be seen whether French officials will take action against any of those implicated in the alleged extortion plot.

Pogba has had fitness issues but has strong hopes of being a key player for France at the World Cup in November.

“We’re just at the beginning of this affair,” said Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation.

“No one has been in court as far as I know. At this stage, there are just rumours. I love Paul. I hope this does not raise questions about his place in the French national team.”

(Top photo: Mike Hewitt – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

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‘The Pogba affair’ explained

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