Paul Pogba pictured with Gianni Infantino at World Cup final after late U-turn
France and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba was not initially expected to support his compatriots in Qatar, with his club side keen for him to stay away from the World Cup final.
France international Paul Pogba was spotted with FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the World Cup final, despite suggestions his club side Juventus didn’t want him to attend.
Pogba, who scored for France when they won the World Cup final in 2018, rejoined Juve over the summer after a stint with Manchester United. He has yet to make his second debut for the club, though, having sustained an injury in pre-season which also ensured he has played no part at the World Cup in Qatar.
The 29-year-old has been showing his support from afar, without joining up with the squad. In the lead-up to the final, it was being reported that Juve had banned him from flying over, but he was eventually able to travel to the final.
As cameras panned around the Lusail Stadium before kick-off between Argentina and France, Pogba was among those pictured. Not only that, but he was spotted in the vicinity of Infantino, with France president Emmanuel Macron also in close attendance.
“Together! I am with you,” Pogba said in a video message before France’s semi-final victory over Morocco. “I give you all my strength. All my strength has this group there. That’s my band, that’s my guys.”
The former Man Utd star wasn’t the only member of Les Bleus’ squad to be hit by injury. N’Golo Kante, Christopher Nkunku and Presnel Kimpembe all suffered setbacks before France’s first group game, as did 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, while Lucas Hernandez was seriously injured in the opener against Australia.
“Paul takes up a lot of space in this France team with his personality, but I am convinced that there are other young leaders who can emerge,” veteran striker Olivier Giroud said when Pogba’s absence was confirmed. “I too will play my role of big brother for the youngest, be available for them, and speak up when necessary.”
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Infantino had earlier come in for criticism from former Germany star Philipp Lahm. The Bayern Munich stalwart, part of his country’s victorious squad at the 2014 World Cup, was accused of lacking integrity.
“FIFA continued to lose credibility with the top representative,” Lahm wrote in his column for RND. One increasingly gets the impression that Gianni Infantino is not looking for the best solution in terms of football and that he simply does not have integrity.
“Infantino doesn’t give the impression that he wants to change anything about it. He takes advantage of the game. That is the problem of FIFA, a European-based institution, not football. And that can only be changed by finally relying on a reasonable, transparent award procedure in the future.”
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