You Don't Own Him

[Content Note: Entitlement; hostility to consent; racism.]

Something you may not know about me (or may recall, if you've been around long enough) is that I am a football (soccer) fan.

I have always loved the game. I was a Chicago Power fan when I was a teenager, seeing many a game during the now-defunct indoor league. And I was a diehard Manchester United fan even before David Beckham became a household name. I fell for them because of things I read in, of all places, British music magazines I bought to get the latest Morrissey news.

I am still a Man United fan; the reddest of Red Devils. I love them when they win, and I love them when they lose.

Last year, they acquired Paul Pogba in the most expensive player purchase of all time. (After selling him a few years back. Whooooops!) He is a terrific young player, exciting to watch and easy to cheer. At least for me.

Like any extraordinary player in the English Premiere League, Pogs (as he is affectionately known at Shakes Manor) is in demand. For endorsements and interviews. And fans are often keen to get a moment with him, a picture, an autograph.

On Sunday, Man United won the League Cup. Pogs had a great game.

On Monday, he was attacked by fans at a restaurant where he was dining, because he refused them an autograph.
Footage has emerged, via The Sun, of Pogba being Snapchatted by some fans just minding his own business in Akbar's curry house before they eventually plucked up the courage to ask the world's most expensive player for an autograph.

Much to their dismay, though, Pogba declined the request which prompted an angry reaction from the supporters, who then accused him of being disrespectful.

The video then shows the Man Utd star being backed into a corner of the room while the furious fans are being held back.

The Sun also claim things got so heated a plate was even thrown at Pogba, although that doesn't seem to appear in the footage provided.

..."The lads were furious that Pogba had the nerve to say no to their request for an autograph. But Pogba was enjoying a quiet meal with friends and felt uncomfortable with the attention."
So, to recap: They recorded him without his permission, and he did not object. Then they interrupted him to ask for an autograph, which he politely declined. So they attacked him and accused him of being "disrespectful."

Because Pogba, who is Black, did not show these fans the proper "respect" by interrupting his dinner to perform at their entitled command, he was assaulted.

Not that it would matter if Paul Pogba were the biggest asshole on the planet—he still has a right to set boundaries—but he seems, as much as one can tell from interviews and the comments of his teammates and managers, to be just a super kind and decent guy. He is generous with his time (when he's not in the middle of fucking dinner!), and he has spoken about the profound gratitude (example, starting just after the five-minute mark) and appreciation he has for being able to play a game he loves for a living. He does not take for granted his able-bodiedness, and has often (as have other players) given his jersey to a disabled child in the stands after a match.

I'm not suggesting he's a saint; just that he gives without being asked and has remarkable perspective for a young superstar in his field who broke the record for being the most desired player on the planet.

That's the human being who was called "disrespectful" because he didn't want to sign an autograph during his dinner.

And although I'm writing this about Paul Pogba, a player who I cheer every week and like very much, I'm writing it about everyone who is a lot or a little bit famous, because there is this persistent idea that doing something in public means conceding your right to consent, privacy, and self-governance.

We don't own celebrities. And fuck anyone who behaves like they do.

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