Does Algeria Really Plan On Donating Their World Cup Winnings To Gaza?

Yesterday, a story surfaced claiming that Algeria striker Islam Slimani said his team would be donating all of their World Cup prize winnings—$9 million was the reported amount, which is accurate for a team eliminated in the Round of 16—to Gaza. That's an extremely generous gesture. It also appears to be bullshit.

When I clicked on those weird Facebook trending topics and saw the Bleacher Report post, it instantly seemed suspicious. "Islam Slimani: Algeria Will Donate Their World Cup Prize Money to Gaza." Just Gaza? Reading the article didn't provide more details, only "the people of embattled Gaza." Would Algeria just write "To: Gaza" on an envelope with money and hope it went to the people who needed it?

Where did the only quote used—"They need it more than us"—come from? Slimani's Twitter and Facebook pages don't mention any donation. Maher Mezahi, who covered the Algerian national team for a few outlets, traced not just the quote, but the origin of the story.

Mezahi pointed out that in Algeria's welcoming ceremony, one of the players hung a Palestinian flag over the side of the bus. This could have been the spark for the story.

Mezahi traced the first mention back to this random dude.

And Mezahi believes a man named Waleed Abu Nada on Twitter added Slimani's quote, and was the catalyst for it getting picked up by actual outlets.

French outlet France Football did their part to debunk the donation story, but they also raised another question. I'm using Google Translate here, but an Arabic singer named Ahlam had allegedly promised the Algerian team $10,000 per goal. (This is also in dispute; other articles say she would gift a diamond-encrusted soccer ball if they won the World Cup.) Anyway, per the French article, the players don't want the money and would prefer it go to those in need:

"We do not need it, it would be better to donate to the children of Gaza," replied some Algerian players.

Which Algerian players? Some! The same article from Albawaba that mentioned the diamond-encrusted soccer ball attributes a similar quote to Slimani, though according to its timestamp it came out after the France Football story, so it may have just been rehashing it. Even if the quote's true, though, that's a hell of a lot different than saying, "We're giving all our World Cup prize money to Gaza."

Bleacher Report has already updated their article, as have other sites. (Google "Islam Slimani Gaza" if you want to see the list of who wrote about it.) The article on 101 Great Goals, which B/R cited, links to a 404 now. Sorry, your faith in humanity cannot be restored with this dubious story.

Photo: AP