While most fans were celebrating Frances World Cup victory over Croatia, some eagle-eyed viewers spotted an incredible moment that appeared to show a FIFA official pocketing a winners medal for Vladimir Putin – but is all as it seems?
Les Blues secured their second World Cup title – and first on foreign soil – with a thumping 4-2 win on Sunday evening in Moscow, with the clash serving up the most goals in a final since 1966.
Russian president Putin was part of the presentation ceremony after the match, handing out medals to both sets of players.
He nearly broke the internet when he hogged the sole umbrella as rain lashed down on France president Emmanuel Macron and Croatia president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic beside him, who also took to the stage in the centre of the pitch.
But it was a moment towards the end of the medal ceremony that really got viewers excited, when a FIFA assistant whispered something in Putins ear before pocketing the medal.
Some thought that the Russian president was treating to himself to a very special souvenir from a thrilling World Cup – as he infamously did with a Super Bowl ring back in 2005 – but the truth is actually far more mundane than that.
The assistant had actually spotted that France captain Hugo Lloris was the last squad member to make his way to the stage, leaving them with excess medals – so tucked away the spare for safe keeping.
Countries are usually allowed to allocate additional medals afterwards, to staff members and even players who were not part of the final 23-man squad but played a role in qualification.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft once claimed that Putin had nabbed his Super Bowl XXXIX ring, telling the New York Post: I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, “I can kill someone with this ring”.
I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and he walked out.
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