Claim: A Facebook user has shared a viral video of former Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović, allegedly claiming Messi does not deserve the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award.
Verdict: Doctored. Utilising the Invid Video Verification tool and analysing the footage, DUBAWA found that the video had been altered. DUBAWA located the original video, an interview with British broadcaster Piers Morgan on October 5, 2023, and found that Zlatan Ibrahimović made no such comments in the video.
On Jan. 18, 2024, a Facebook user, Mc Funnynwa Cfr, shared a video claiming that former Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović has stated that Argentine captain Lionel Messi is undeserving of the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award. The video has garnered over 279,000 views with over 6,000 likes.
The video caption is “Messi Fans gather here; Zlatan Ibrahimović has something to tell you guys. This is the truth, nothing but the truth.”
The video’s release coincided with the controversial announcement of Lionel Messi as the Best Fifa Male Footballer of the Year 2023.
In the video, Zlatan Ibrahimović is allegedly heard saying Messi does not deserve to win the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award. His premise was based on the performance of other players like Manchester City forward Erling Haaland during the 2022/2023 football season.
In the video, Zlatan Ibrahimović is heard saying Messi is undeserving of the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award because of the performance of other players, notably Manchester City forward Erling Haaland, during the 2022/2023 football season.
The video claims Ibrahimović said, “To be honest with you, if Messi wins the best FIFA men award, you will have to see that there is favouritism. This has nothing to do with the World Cup. Don’t get me wrong. If it did include the World Cup, then he deserves it. It is what he’s done in the MLS, the end of his time at PSG. I think that Haaland or Mbappé deserves it. I am sad that Mbappé and Haaland could miss out because of Messi. Haaland, for example, won the Champions League, Premier League and the FA Cup. What did Messi win? He won the World Cup, Burger League Cup and the Best Player award, but comparing these to Haaland’s award means nothing. Messi is still one of the best players of all time and one of the best competitors. But we are talking about the season. Messi fans, be honest; this is getting out of control, and it is becoming clear that FIFA is corrupt.”
Due to the video’s virality and the contentious comments attributed to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, DUBAWA decided to investigate the claim.
What is the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award?
The Best FIFA Men’s Player is the association’s football award presented annually by the sport’s governing body, FIFA, since 2016 to honour the player deemed to have performed the best over the previous calendar year. In acknowledgement of this award, Argentine captain Lionel Messi was crowned The Best FIFA Men’s Player for 2023 on January 15, 2024. His performance surpassed Kylian Mbappe’s and Erling Haaland’s formidable competition, securing the top spot once again in the men’s game spanning from December 19, 2022, to August 20, 2023.
Has Ibrahimović commented on Messi’s award?
No. DUBAWA used an Invid video verification tool to discover the veracity of the viral video. The tool provided frames of the video, of which we conducted a Yandex Image Search with them. Our findings revealed that the viral Facebook video accompanying the alleged audio was originally from an interview with American broadcaster Piers Morgan on Oct. 5, 2023.
DUBAWA critically watched the 1 hour 45 minutes 10 seconds of the uncut interview to find out if Ibrahimović made such a comment on Messi winning the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award. We found out that he did not. More importantly, the part in the interview where he talked about his best player ever when a question was posed to him was from the 1 hour 14 minutes 45 seconds onwards. Giving his answer, no comment was made about Messi or the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award.
A careful assessment of the voice in the original video and the supposed Ibrahimović in Messi’s FIFA Best Men’s Player Award video shows a wide disparity, confirming that the original clip was altered. For instance, the pace of the first few seconds of the voice in the altered video does not match the original video.
DUBAWA also monitored the former AC Milan forward’s social media handles (Twitter and Instagram) to discover if any public statements were made regarding Messi’s award. No such statements were found. Additionally, DUBAWA conducted a Google search to identify news coverage by media outlets, but none was discovered.
The video claiming that former Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović has stated that Argentine captain Lionel Messi is undeserving of the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award is doctored. He has never made such a comment.