Mathias Pogba, the brother of football star Paul Pogba
and questioned by police, a source close to the investigation said on Wednesday, after
the Juventus midfielder said he was the target of extortion attempts and threats.
Mathias presented himself in the ‘early afternoon to investigators and was placed in
police custody’, said one of the legal sources who asked not to be named.
The formal probe follows preliminary investigations and will look into allegations of
blackmail by an armed gang, kidnapping and membership of a criminal conspiracy.
Three other people are also in custody, the source said. Temporary detention in
France usually ends after 24 hours.
Among the four suspects detained in total in the probe, one was taken into custody
on Tuesday and three on Wednesday, a judicial source added.
Paul Pogba – the former Manchester United star who re-joined Juventus in the
summer – has claimed his brother and ‘childhood friends’ were part of a group who
targeted him at the club’s training centre in Turin.
Franceinfo radio claimed that the group, armed with MI6 assault rifles, demanded
£11million (€13m) from the French midfielder for ‘protection services’ stretching
back 13 years, including the time he spent in Manchester when he played for
Pogba claims the gang has been threatening him for four months.
Acts of intimidation were carried out in Manchester in April, and later around the
Italian city of Turin, where Pogba currently plays for Juventus.
The gang is also said to have taken Pogba to flat in the Paris suburb of Lagny-sur-
Marne, where Pogba grew up, at the end of March. There, the gang members accused
Pogba of not helping them financially since he became a professional player.
Paul reportedly paid £85,000 (€100,000) to the group to ‘save time’, after he was
threatened by masked, armed men in a Paris apartment while on international duty –
only to see another multi-million demand issued.
The initial investigations had been entrusted to the OCLCO, a unit within the judicial
police tasked with investigating organised crime.
The extraordinary saga began last month when Pogba’s eldest brother Mathias
released a video on social media, vowing he would soon make a series of ‘great
revelations’ about the World Cup winner.
He said during the video: ‘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.
‘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.’
Soon after the post was made, the Juventus midfielder released a statement – signed
by his lawyers, his mother Yeo Moriba and current agent Rafaela Pimenta – admitting
that Mathias’ videos were ‘unfortunately no surprise’
The statement read: ‘They (the videos) are in addition to threats and extortion
attempts by an organised gang against Paul Pogba.’
‘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.’
Mathias Pogba, 32, is also a football player, who had spells in British football at
Wrexham, Crewe Alexandra, Crawley Town and Partick Thistle.
Mathias has previously insisted that he is ‘a complete stranger’ to any extortion
attempt against his brother, says his lawyer Richard Arbib.
There was also claim Paul had used a witch doctor to cast a spell on Mbappe,
something he denies, and said was made up to discredit him.
Mbappe, 23, reportedly called both Paul and Mathias to try and understand why he
had been drawn into their ongoing saga.
Earlier this month, Mbappe said: ‘He [Paul] called me, he gave his version of the facts.
It’s his word against the word of his brother. He (Paul Pogba) already has certain
problems and I think it’s not the time to add to them for him. We’ll see how that all
goes, I’m pretty detached from all that.’
French football president Noel Le Graet told L’Equipe: ‘This case is in the hands of the
police. An investigation is underway. At this point, I won’t make any further
comments other than to show my support for Paul Pogba.
‘Paul is a man I hold in high esteem, he’s highly appreciated by the entire Federation.
‘He has always been exemplary for the France team for almost 10 years after having
shone in all of the youth teams. I hope to see him again very soon, on the pitch and
in great shape.
Mathias doubled down on the ‘witchcraft’ claims, and stated that reports about an
£11m extortion are false.
‘All of Paul’s statements, from the hearing at the start of August – before my videos –
to the response from his lawyers and the responses, from his supporters, are only
intended to drag my name through the mud,’ Mathias Pogba said in his latest TikTok