Paul Pogba has denied making an offensive gesture at journalists towards the end of France’s 2-0 defeat of Albania at Euro 2016 on Wednesday.
Pogba was pictured appearing to make a ‘bras d’honneur’ motion in the direction of the media section at the Stade Velodrome after Dimitri Payet netted an injury-time goal to make sure of the points for Didier Deschamps’ men in a 2-0 victory.
The story has caused controversy in France but Pogba denied there was any malice in his actions.
In a statement released to AFP, he said: “The joy I displayed with a big gesture, as is my habit, following the liberating goal by Dimitri Payet against Albania has today turned into a controversy.
“I want to say sincerely, but very firmly that, whatever interpretation you want to take from these images, I never had any intention to make a gesture towards someone or take my revenge on anyone.
“I was crazily happy by the goal, and I turned to the stand where I knew my mother and my brothers were and I did my usual celebration, arms in the air and fists lifted. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Pogba attracted plenty of media criticism following his performance in Friday’s opening-night 2-1 win over Romania and was left out of the starting line-up for the game in Marseille.
He was introduced at half-time and made a positive impression as goals from Antoine Griezmann and Payet settled the game and ensured Les Bleus’ place in the knockout stages.