Manchester United star Paul Pogba has reportedly quit international football in the wake of comments made by French president Emmanuel Macron on ‘Islamist terrorism’, reports The Sun, quoting a number of Middle Eastern news sources.
The French professional footballer, 27, who plays for UK Premier League club Manchester United and the France national team was suggested by Arabic sports website 195sports.com as having resigned in outrage following remarks made on Friday by his country’s leader in connection with the government’s decision to honour history teacher Samuel Paty with the French Legion d'honneur.
Paty was posthumously awarded the highest decoration bestowed by the French state after he was murdered by beheading on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 km northwest of Paris, by an 18-year-old man of Chechen descent.
The attack came after Paty had demonstrated a number of satirical cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad to his students during a lesson on freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.
The Moscow-born suspect, who as a child moved to France and was granted refugee status there, was shot dead by police officers on the day of the attack, with an investigation into the gruesome murder underway.
President Emmanuel Macron had weighed in on the incident, slamming it as a "terrorist attack" and tasking his government with undertaking steps to root out the Islamist threat.
President Emmanuel Macron spoke at a commemoration ceremony for the victim, underscoring that France will never renounce caricatures and will further defend freedom promoted by the murdered teacher.
"We will continue, professor. We will defend the freedom that you taught so well and we will be secular, we will not renounce caricatures, illustrations, even if others step back," Macron said in his address outside the Sorbonne University, as broadcast by the Elysee Palace on its Twitter account.
Midfielder Paul Pogba had allegedly considered the decision as a personal insult to him and to all French Muslims, especially since Islam is the second most popular religion in France after Christianity, with over five million adherents.
There has not yet been any official comment on the report from Pogba himself or the French Football Association.
The French President’s comments have drawn ire around the world, with a call triggered for people to boycott French goods in the wake of Macron’s comments, perceived as accusing Muslims of separatism.
The French Foreign Ministry responded to the calls on Sunday, saying:
"The calls for a boycott are groundless and must be stopped immediately, like all attacks against our country committed by a radical minority."