World Cup winner says he has been the victim of an organized extortion campaign
World Cup winning midfielder Paul Pogba’s claims that he has been the target of a campaign of extortion and threats by a criminal gang is being investigated by French prosecutors, it has emerged.
The probe which is being undertaken by prosecutor Laure Beccuau will examine allegations that Pogba has been targeted by a gang who are attempting to extort money from the Juventus player. Claims of blackmail and kidnapping are also being investigated.
Per reporting by Reuters in recent days, Pogba, 29, has been the victim of an extortion campaign which has been allegedly operated by childhood friends, and it is understood that he paid them a sum of just under $100,000 (£86,000) earlier this year.
Pogba, who won the 2018 World Cup in Russia with France, released a statement last week in which he said that authorities in both Italy and France were investigating the case, with a French specialist unit – the Central Office for the Fight against Organized Crime (OCLCO) – understood to be leading the investigation.
The probe comes a week removed from a bizarre message to posted to social media by Pogba’s older brother Mathias during which he claimed to have damaging information about Pobga, and several others in the player’s orbit such as his agent, Rafaela Pimenta.
“The French, English, Italian and Spanish public, as well as my brother’s fans – and even more so the French team and Juventus, my brother’s teammates and his sponsors – deserve to know certain things,” Mathias Pogba said in the social media video.
“In order to make an informed decision if he deserves the admiration, respect and love of the public.
“Whether he deserves his place in the French team and the honour of playing in the World Cup. If he deserves to be a starter at Juventus.
“If he is a trustworthy person, that any player would want to have at his side.”
However, Mathias Pogba’s claims were immediately refuted in a joint statement issued by Paul Pogba, his mother and lawyer Yeo Moriba and Pimenta in which they said that Mathias Pogba’s revelation was “unfortunately no surprise”.
Mathias has also made claims involving Pogba’s French international teammate Kylian Mbappe, including that Paul Pogba used a witch doctor to cast a ‘spell’ on him.
“They (the videos) are in addition to threats and extortion attempts by an organised gang against Paul Pogba,” the statement said.
“The competent bodies in Italy and France were informed a month ago and there will be no further comments in relation to the ongoing investigation.”
Further reports have indicated that Paul Pogba told French police that he had been held at gunpoint as part of an alleged threat of blackmail.
It has also been claimed that the criminals have demanded a sum of $12.6 million (£11 million) from Pogba for supposed ‘protection services’ which date back more than 13 years to his initial spell at Manchester United.
French outlet RTL also reported that Mbappe has been in contact with both Pogba brothers to ask why his name has become entangled in the claims.
Paul Pogba returned to Italian giants Juventus this summer on a free transfer from Manchester United six years after joining the Premier League side in what was at the time a world record transfer.