World Cup winner Paul Pogba He paid 100,000 euros ($100,000) to an organized group, including his brother, who were trying to extort him for millions, French officials said Tuesday.
French prosecutors are investigating allegations that Pogba was the target of blackmail by his brother, Mathias Pogba, and childhood friends from the eastern suburbs of Paris, where they grew up. They demanded €13m from the French midfielder, repeatedly intimidating him, claiming that he did not support them after he became an international star.
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Prosecutors said no charges had been brought so far, but sources told ESPN that Pogba told police that the group told him he owed them money for his care when he was young and that they were expecting a cashback.
An official close to the investigation confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday that Pogba had told investigators he had already paid €100,000.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with official practice during the ongoing investigation.
According to French media reports, Paul Pogba told investigators that the alleged blackmailers wanted to discredit him by claiming that he had asked a witch doctor to cast a spell on another French star, Kylian Mbappe.
Paul Pogba denied this claim.
Mathias Pogba appeared on Sunday addressing the witch doctor’s claim in a Twitter post directed at Mbappe: “Kylian, do you understand now? I have nothing against you, what I say is for your own good, everything is true and known, the witch doctor is known!”
Mbappe did not respond or comment on the scandal, which appears to stem from a family feud.
A source told ESPN that the Mbappe family is monitoring the situation.
Mathias Pogba released a new video on social media on Tuesday in which he claims his brother has paid millions of euros to witch doctors over the years to avoid infection and that “these practices require you to do bad things for their ritual with a desire to do harm.”
He also defended himself against the accusation of extortion.
“In his determined efforts to discredit anyone who knows his dirty little secrets, Paul claims that the money he gave his childhood friends was part of blackmail,” said Matthias Pogba. “But what if this money is justified by official and registered documents, and there is evidence of a gesture of approval?”
Sources told ESPN that France coach Didier Deschamps had been aware of the problem between Pogba and his brother for some time and was monitoring the situation.
The president of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, has played down the scandal involving two French stars just four months before the World Cup.
“These are just rumours at this point,” Le Gritt said in an interview with Radio Monte Carlo on Monday.
Regarding Paul Pogba, who is currently out with a knee injury, Le Graet added: “I love Paul. I hope this does not arouse suspicion. [World Cup] Spot on the French side. ”
The case became public after Matthias Pogba posted on social media last weekend threats to share “explosive” information about his brother Rafaela Pimenta (Paul’s agent) and Mbappe.
In Instagram videos, Mathias Seems to read a statement In Italian, Spanish, English and French, promising “great discoveries”.
“All of this is likely to be explosive,” Mathias added.
According to ESPN sources, a childhood friend of Pogba who spent a lot of time at Pogba’s house in Manchester stole €200,000 via a credit card.
French broadcaster BFM reported on Tuesday that Pogba made the payment in April after masked gunmen threatened him in a Paris apartment in March while he was in France for national team matches.
The group has also allegedly requested Pogba at the Juventus training center in Turin. He said Mathias was among them, according to reports by France-Info, also a public radio station.
In response, Paul Pogba released a statement via his lawyer saying that his brother’s allegations were “in addition to threats and extortion attempts by an organized gang against Paul Pogba”.
The Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office said, on Monday, that it had opened an investigation this month into an attempt to blackmail an organizer, the responsibility of which is the anti-corruption police. He did not provide further details regarding the ongoing investigation.
Paul Pogba, 29, won the World Cup with France in 2018 and returned this summer to Juventus after six seasons with Manchester United.
Mathias Pogba, three years older than him, is also a footballer who has spent most of his career with lower-level teams in Europe.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.