Paul Pogba, a French player, was compelled to erase his Instagram post following a deluge of Islamophobic abuse from so-called “fans.”
On Sunday, the twenty-eight-year-old shared a photo of himself lifting his hands up in prayer in front of Mecca’s Kaaba, a Muslim holy site, with the caption: “Ya Allah! Guide us in the correct direction, accept our good deeds, and forgive us because you are the one who forgives. Amine! Brothers and sisters, may Allah accept our Duas.”
However, it was quickly attacked by racist trolls, who swamped the comment section with Islamophobic and anti-Black remarks. And then, less than two hours later, Pogba’s account was deactivated.
After word of its removal spread over social media, followers took to Twitter to voice their outrage at the unwarranted criticism.
“How in the greenest of God’s green earth did that IG post offend certain people?” a user wrote.
“Disgusting,” another added. “It’s no wonder he’s going to leave us in the summer.”
“Look, I’m not a Manchester United [or] Pogba supporter, but I’m still perplexed as to why he would face harassment for stating his ideas. As in, what the hell is wrong with people?” enquired another.
Others offered encouraging words to the player: “@paulpogba, you have the right supporters, and the right fans will support and back you.”
This type of news is unsurprising to us, as football is infamous for its bigotry. As much as we’d like to believe that “it’s gotten better” or that “they’re increasing awareness about it,” we can’t overlook the fact that fanbases have made little to no improvement. While the players themselves are making an effort to combat hate, a sizable percentage of the fan base continues to attack POC and Black players, frequently yelling slurs in the stands or hiding behind a computer screen and pasting monkey emojis beneath postings. Certain individuals even go so far as to literally throw bananas into the pitch.
In the United Kingdom, we witnessed an outpouring of ugly hatred during last year’s Euro Cup. Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, and Jadon Sancho were subjected to a racist onslaught following their misses on penalty kicks during the tournament’s final game against Italy, once again highlighting the game’s and our country’s ingrained faults.
You know things are bad when even white players face criticism for kneeling before to games. Consider booing an anti-racist organisation. Simply state that you are a racist and surrender. Not to mention Priti Patel and the rest of the Tory buddies. Consider being the UK’s Home Secretary and openly stating that fans have the “right” to boo players who are actively protesting bigotry. True, we haven’t forgotten. We retained all receipts.
That is the United Kingdom for you. To be completely candid, the rest of the world is not much better. We still have a great deal of work ahead of us.
We support Paul Pogba and pray that Allah makes it easy for him.