Paul Pogba has denied using the 'bras d’honneur' - an obscene gesture also known as the 'umbrella gesture’ - during France’s Euro 2016 victory over Albania on Wednesday.
The Juventus midfielder was accused of using the gesture towards journalists who criticised his disappointing performance in France’s Euro 2016 opener against Romania last Friday.
Pogba was underwhelming during Les Bleus’ opening match but came off the bench to help his national team secure a late 2-0 win over Albania at the Stade Velodrome in midweek.
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Antoine Griezmann, who was also dropped for France’s second match, came on to score a 90th-minute header.
Dimitri Payet, the star of Euro 2016 so far, then added a second deep into stoppage time - and Pogba, running back to his own half, appeared to use the gesture which is considered obscene in a number of countries including France, Spain and Italy. (Scroll down to watch the video).
Video: Did Pogba use offensive gesture?
Images were not broadcast on TV
The images were not broadcast on television, with beIN Sports director Florent Houzot telling L’Equipe that he didn’t want to create unnecessary controversy.
"I took the decision not to broadcast this sequence in our post-game magazine,” Houzot commented. We are supporters of the France team and this is not the time to create unnecessary controversy.
“I prefer to stay positive."
Pogba denies using the 'bras d’honneur'
And Pogba insists that people accusing him of using the 'bras d’honneur' have got the wrong end of the stick.
"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,” the Frenchman was quoted as saying by Goal.
"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."
Following his 45-minute cameo against the Albanians, Pogba will now be hoping to win back his place in the starting XI for France’s third and final group-stage match against Switzerland on Sunday night.
Did Paul Pogba use the offensive gesture? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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