Paul Pogba has rejected reports that he directed an obscene gesture toward journalists during France’s 2-0 win over Albania on Wednesday.
The Juventus midfielder was celebrating Italy’s second goal when he was pictured motioning with his arms at the Stade Velodrome.
Pogba on Thursday denied the gesture had any meaning aside from celebration.
“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,” he said in a statement to AFP.
“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’s performance in France’s opening game against Romania had been criticised, and he was dropped from the starting lineup against Albania before coming on at half-time.
He sparked a vastly improved display following a limp first half from the hosts, though coach Didier Deschamps confirmed the midfielder was not happy with losing his starting role.