Paul Pogba and his brother Mathias Pogba are embroiled in an extremely public war of words after it was revealed over the weekend that investigations are underway into a potential attempt to blackmail the Juventus star. The France international has alleged that his older brother is part of a conspiracy to extract $13 million from him with new wrinkles emerging on a seemingly hourly basis. Most notably, Mathias has made counter claims that his brother used witchcraft to wish injury on France teammate Kylian Mappe
Paul Pogba has denied Mathias' accusations so far, but Mathias continues to add to his claims via social media in what has quickly become an extremely messy episode. On Wednesday, Mathias was taken into police custody due to his connection with the blackmail affair, according to Le Monde. He turned himself into the police while three other suspects have been taken into custody by the Paris prosecutors office due to their connections to the extortion attempt.
Les Bleus, of course, are no strangers to controversy. Most notably, another blackmail scandal, this one between Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena, ended both players' international careers until the Real Madrid man's recent comeback in 2021.
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Latest Pogba developments
French authorities are investigating Paul Pogba's allegations of blackmail at gunpoint for a sum of $13 million which implicates the 29-year-old's brother Mathias and some childhood friends, according to L'Equipe.
Paul Pogba's claim is that a childhood friend staying with him in Manchester stole around $200,000, but the then-Manchester United player did not file a complaint at the time. Mathias now claims that it was an innocent cousin whom Paul tried to deny knowledge of.
L'Equipe also report that the authorities are considering whether Paul Pogba has painted a full picture of the reasons behind the blackmail attempt with Mathias yet to respond to requests to clarify one of his recent Twitter quotes: "It is not about money. You implicated me despite myself, and I almost died because of you. You left me in a hole and now you want to play the innocent one?"
Meanwhile, the investigation is progressing. "We have material to look at," a source close to the investigation told L'Equipe. "We must give ourselves time to carry out certain cross checks. That Paul Pogba helped his childhood friends from time to time already seems to be established and there is no reason to doubt the reported events -- particularly the extortion attempt. It seems that he thought joining Juventus would enable him to get rid of his blackmailers. It was only when he saw them again in Turin that he alerted club lawyers."
Mathias' wild claims
Mathias keeps making claims that get wilder and wilder. "Hi everybody, what a crazy way to start the week!" he wrote in a lengthy update via Twitter. "I must say that many people and media have decided that Paul's words must be the ultimate truth without verification just because he is a star and that the guy who did not have a great career should shut up. I know that some are mocking the truth due to their fanaticism towards the great Paul Pogba and that only the World Cup matters to some others. Many would have shut their eyes if only Michael Jackson, M.J., had given us another Billie Jean," his statement began you know you're in for a wild ride.
He went on to deny the allegations completely, saying, "All of Paul's statements, from the hearing early in August -- before my videos -- to his lawyers' response and his fans, have been intended to dirty my name. I am asking myself why he would rush to deal with what I had to say about witchcraft. Because it would be difficult to talk about the so-called blackmail?"
And then, of course, he turned his attention back to the witchcraft allegations, referring to reports that the Juventus superstar had admitted to hiring a witchdoctor but claimed it was to protect himself from injury.
"Consequently, the only path to survival is to unveil his lies and deception. That is why I revealed his use of witchcraft because what matters here is not whether you believe in it or whether it works, more that it is malicious as these practices expect you to do bad things with a will to cause harm. Note that Paul denied resorting to witchdoctors, so why did he reveal this to the investigator? 'Pogba admitted to police having paid a witchdoctor in his entourage to protect him from injuries,'" he wrote on Twitter, citing Franceinfo.
"Does protection from injuries cost millions of Euros over the years (especially as it did not work)? The investigators and tax authorities will be able to verify that with the Central Bank of London. Also, in trying to discredit all of those who know his little secrets, Paul claims that the money he offered his childhood friends was extorted which is easy to say to the media.
"What if this money is justified by official, saved documents and proof of an agreement? Surely that is not the same. In any case, I am happy to be supported through this ordeal and I am very grateful to my big brothers and those who have believed me. To finish, stay patient as the unveiling of the lies and my own version of the facts is coming!"
Reaction in France
Mathias Pogba has played for third-tier outfit Tours FC in the past and President Jean-Marc Ettori told Le Figaro that he is not at all surprised by the current scandal involving the two brothers. "He was offered to us, but we all said no thanks. They (the Pogbas with agent Gael Mahe) said to take Mathias and that Paul would pay his salary and costs. In addition, he proposed coming to play a friendly match in Tours and watching his brother play twice."
Mathias Pogba played five matches for Tours FC and Ettori added that on top of a promised sum of $80,000, which never arrived, and court action in Switzerland being rejected as it was considered too onerous for Tours, that Paul and Mathias' mother Yeo Moriba is "the gang leader who pilots everything and says yes or no."
FC Nantes head coach Antoine Kombouare was emphatic in his backing of Paul Pogba and admitted that France boss Didier Deschamps has a decision to make over the situation: "It disgusts me to see this all playing out in public," he said. "It is complicated for all players whether it is family or the first circle of agents and advisors. You cannot imagine the pressure. I really pity guys like Paul and all players. I have been in this game for 40 years and I have seen it evolve.
"Families are increasingly present. It is hard for the players, so we try to protect them. We do not know everything, though. When you earn so much money, there are so many vultures circling. These are private matters too and it is about being strong enough which I think he has the stature to handle. It is up to Paul to come back stronger, and I believe that Didier will help him -- if he can."
French Football Federation President Noel Le Graet has also hinted that the issue could impact Paul Pogba's future with Les Bleus. "This is just the start of it, and nothing is in court as far as I know. Right now, these are just rumors. I love Paul. I hope that it does not call his future into question."