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CRIME

French footballer Pogba’s brother charged in extortion case

The elder brother of Paul Pogba has been charged and detained over the alleged extortion of the French football star, a source close to the case said Saturday.

French footballer Pogba's brother charged in extortion case
This file photo from 2019 shows France national team player Paul Pogba (R) and his brother Mathias Pogba (L) prior to a football match. Mathias has been charged over the alleged extortion of his younger brother, Paul. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

“We are going to challenge this decision,” Mathias Pogba’s lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, told French broadcaster BFMTV, insisting that his client had committed no criminal offence.

A judicial source said that four other people being held and questioned over the case, aged between 27 and 36, had also been charged and detained.

The five have been held in custody since Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mathias Pogba, 32, has admitted to being behind a bizarre video published on social media (a screenshot of which is below) on August 27 promising “great revelations” about the Juventus player and French national team member.

mathias pogba instagran

The four others are all close to the Pogba brothers.

Paul Pogba had filed a complaint with Turin prosecutors on July 16, saying he was the target of a 13-million-euro blackmail plot.

According to sources close to the Pogba family contacted by AFP, large sums of money are being demanded from Paul Pogba if he wants to avoid the dissemination of allegedly compromising videos.

Paul Pogba told investigators that his blackmailers wanted to discredit him by claiming he asked a marabout (holy man) to cast a spell on Paris Saint-Germain and France star Kylian Mbappe, which Pogba denies.

French prosecutors launched an investigation on September 2. It is being handled jointly by the French police’s anti-gang and central crime units.

Several people, including Pogba’s mother, have already been interviewed by police, a judiciary source told AFP.

On the field, Pogba’s hopes of playing for France at the World Cup in Qatar later this year hang in the balance after a knee injury. He had surgery that was described as “successful” earlier this month.

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POLITICS

Beautiful game sparks ugly row at French parliament

Sport and charity work are among few subjects warring politicians unite around, but not so in the new French parliament where a dispute has erupted over whether far-right MPs can play in the assembly's football team.

Beautiful game sparks ugly row at French parliament

Left-wing parties and the governing Renaissance group of President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday they would boycott a charity game if the far-right National Rally (RN) joins the parliament side.

Even though the RN has historically high representation with 89 seats in the assembly, “that doesn’t mean that we should help them in their desire to normalise themselves,” government spokesman Olivier Veran told CNews television.

Senior Renaissance MP Aurore Berge fretted about the team photo, telling fellow centrist lawmakers: “We are not in the same team. Neither far-right, nor far-left.”

The row underlines a decades-long dilemma for mainstream French politicians over how to deal with the far-right parties of Jean Marie Le Pen and his daughter Marine Le Pen since their emergence in the 1970s.

Some have tried to boycott them entirely, including former president Jacques Chirac, who refused to debate Jean-Marie in 2002 when they faced off in the final round of the presidential election.

She scored 41.4 percent in the second round of April’s presidential election and the party increased its number of seats 10-fold in June’s parliamentary vote.

“It says a lot about these people in reality,” Le Pen told RTL radio on Wednesday about the football row. “It’s hatred all the time,  everywhere, non-stop fighting.”

Veran, an enthusiastic player in previous parliament charity matches, acknowledged his own misgivings about the boycott.

“In saying that I won’t go to play, I am taking part in a phenomenon that serves to reinforce the notion that they (the far-right) are ostracised, that they are victims of the system,” he said.

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