x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

No, former Real Madrid player Lassana Diarra did not go to fight in Syria

The French footballer - formerly of Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth, as well - had to issue a denial after social media speculation that he was the man in video filmed in Syria.

Lasanna Diarra, right, challenging Lionel Messi in a match with Real Madrid in 2009. Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP
Lasanna Diarra, right, challenging Lionel Messi in a match with Real Madrid in 2009. Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP

Footballers have to deal with rumours all the time – rumours about transfers, rumours about their personal lives, etc. etc.

But this? This is probably a new one.

Lassana Diarra, the former Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid and current Lokomotiv Moscow player, has been forced to deny he’s gone to fight in the Syria conflict.

The rumour stems from a video being circulated online that shows a masked man – you can only see his eyes and a bit of nose – identified as a jihadist in Syria delivering a message in English. People online, particularly around social media, have said it resmembles Diarra.

How they come to that conclusion when 90 per cent of the man in the video’s face cannot be seen is unclear.

Anyway, Diarra has no had to issue an official denial through his lawyer, as well as having a laugh about it on his Twitter account. The full story, from Agence France-Presse, is below:

French midfielder Lassana Diarra trained with Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday for a Russian Premier League game after dismissing rumours that he had become a jihadist in the Syria war.

“In Syria??? Lol nice joke guys have a good evening on twitter,” the 29-year-old Frenchman said of the social media speculation on his Twitter account.

“It’s rubbish, nothing else,” Lokomotiv spokesman Denis Novoselov told AFP. Diarra’s French lawyer earlier called the reports “absurd”.

Novoselov dismissed an internet video which has sparked press speculation. “The guy in that footage doesn’t look like Lass (Diarra) at all. It’s obvious for anybody who has seen Diarra just once.”

Novoselov said Diarra, who has recovered from an injury, was training ahead of a weekend match against his old club Anzhi Makhachkala. Diarra does not wish to make any further comment on a “silly story,” added the spokesman.

British tabloid the Daily Mirror reported this week that a former Arsenal footballer had gone to Syria where the war is now into a fourth year. The article did not name the player but fuelled social media rumours.

Diarra “has never set foot in Syria,” the player’s French lawyer Eric Dupond Moretti said late Tuesday. “It’s absurd. He is not a jihadist, he is a footballer with Lokomotiv Moscow.”

Diarra, 29, has played for English sides Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth as well as Real Madrid. He moved to Russia in 2012 to join Anzhi, before joining Lokomotiv last summer.

Diarra has won 28 caps for France but last played for Les Bleus in August 2010.

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE