Why did Manchester United star Paul Pogba dedicate his Newcastle goal to slaves in Libya?

Paul Pogba's Manchester United goal celebration - What was it all about?

Paul Pogba is seen performing his goal celebration against Newcastle

Monday, November 20, 2017

To critics, his meticulously choreographed goal celebrations are garish and immature, encapsulating all that is wrong with modern football and its look at me culture.

But on Saturday Paul Pogba's routine went deeper, hinting at a maturity many had previously missed.

Manchester United's record signing scored the third goal in his team's thumping of Newcastle, and crossed his wrists as he ran away.

One might assume it had been lifted from a rap video, but in fact Pogba explained on Instagram: "While very happy to be back, my prayers go to those suffering slavery in Libya. May Allah be by your side and may this cruelty come to an end!"

But why did the France international, a practising Muslim, choose to highlight the issue?

Well it appears to centre on the smuggler-run detention camps which have sprung up along the coast of Libya, which have attracted thousands of migrants fleeing persecution in their homeland. The United Nations has said those in the camps often suffer sexual abuse, forced labour and torture.

In April this year the International Organisation for Migration claimed it had evidence that a system of slavery had sprung up in the country, with migrants unable to pay their way sold on to ensure the people-smugglers get some measly profit from their enterprise.

The IOM's mission chief for Libya, Othman Belbeisi, told the BBC that the price each migrant is sold for is based on their ability to work.

"Apparently they don't have money and their families cannot pay the ransom," Belbeisi said. "So they are being sold to get at least a minimum benefit from that."

The organisation also said many are often detained by the smugglers for roughly two to three months before being sold, and claimed some involved in the slave trade pose as aid workers in order to gain the trust of migrants before ruthlessly exploiting them.

Last week a video was released by CNN which appeared to show sub-Saharan migrants being sold as farm workers in slave markets in Libya. Each person was reportedly being sold for just $400 (£300). Reports state Libya has now opened an investigation into the matter, following criticism from organisations such as the African Union.

The video also sparked a protest in Paris outside the Libyan Embassy and it is thought around 1,000 people attended on Saturday (November 18), coinciding with Pogba's own protest against Newcastle.

The Paris protesters carried signs saying "no to slavery in Libya" and the crowd then marched in the direction of the Champs-Elysees before being stopped by riot police. This resulted in clashes and reports claim rocks were thrown at officers, who then used tear gas on the crowd.

At a time when footballers get a worse press than ever before, perhaps we should take the time to salute Pogba for the courage and curiosity he has shown in choreographing his latest routine.