One of the great orators of our time, Eddie Izzard, once said of the French, “They’re a bit…fuckin’ French.” Perhaps there is no greater example than the French national team, and that covers both the men and the women.
With a World Cup now just slightly under three months away, that probably means it’s time for something hysterically weird to happen. Unless they’re going to pull their other lever, which is melting down during the tournament and everyone blaming each other’s mother (quite literally). This is a squad after all that had one member try to blackmail another over a sex tape, kick the former off the team for years, and then welcome him back with open arms just last year. Quitting on your coach is so passé when it comes to this team.
So buckle up, because the latest France on France controversy is a doozy. It centers around Paul Pogba, who for the most part is the victim here. Not completely the victim, and the part where he allegedly isn’t is the inter-France squad weirdness. But that’s not the headline.
Paul Pogba has been the target of an extortion plot, and the plot seems to be spear-headed by his own brother and some childhood friends. Mathias Pogba released a pretty strange video on Instagram where he claimed he would let the world know Pogba’s “crimes,” and made reference to “Kylian,” which seems to mean Kylian Mbappé. Paul Pogba was assaulted in France while on international duty by masked men, and said he’d paid the group about $100,000. He also says they have confronted him in Manchester and at the Juventus training ground in Turin, which is finally when Paul went to the police. It’s after the confrontation in Turin that Paul says he recognized his brother as part of the group. He thinks this all started after he kicked a childhood friend out of his Manchester apartment after he discovered the friend had stolen some $200,000 from him through a credit card theft.
While this sounds like some hangers-on getting upset that they no longer get money for free and going over the edge (allegedly), the real juice is in Mathias’ accusations that his brother, Paul, used a marabout to cast spells on opponents and teammates, including Mbappé. A marabout is a Muslim holy man or hermit, sometimes derisively referred to as a “witch doctor.”
Paul Pogba, for his part, doesn’t deny using a marabout, but for his own health and has never directed him outward, as it were.
This wouldn’t be the first time Pogba has been at the center of controversy for the French team. After they crashed out of Euro 2020, many fingers from the squad were pointed at him thanks to his, shall we say, “loose” relationship with tracking back and defending. Switzerland’s second goal in the 3-3 draw was seen as a result of Pogba being unable or unwilling to find a fuck to give as he gave the ball away and tracked back in the same fashion as a sloth might.
This was also the match that saw various parents of players arguing in the stands, as Adrien Rabiot’s mother went spoiling for a fight with any and all comers, including Mbappé’s and Pogba’s families. It’s never dull with France.
There have been reports that Mbappeé himself isn’t just shrugging these accusations off as the ramblings of a desperate criminal trying to squeeze out whatever cash he can from his much richer brother. Seeing as how Mbappé is already the general manager of PSG, it’s not a huge leap to think he could also become the same for the French national team. And there probably are a fair number of teammates who wouldn’t mind Pogba being tossed out in the alley for the national team anyway, before all this started.
This is kind of just the way it goes with France, where either they win the tournament or they turn into the kind of soap opera that would even have wrestling fans rolling their eyes (I fully expect Bray Wyatt to get involved with France before Qatar now). They absolutely had to be restrained from knifing their coach in 2010 in South Africa as they went out in the group stage. Or their greatest ever player tries to send his forehead to the brain stem of an opponent through his throat in a World Cup final. And thanks to Karim Benzema, these aren’t even the weirdest things to happen to them. Apparently, Pogba wanted Benzema to be relieved of the strangest act amongst France teammates.
Again, they’re a bit…fucking French.