In France, a photo of the World Cup champions celebrating their victory at the presidential palace has circulated on social networks with a worrying message: “The president’s office put all the black [players] in the back row”. However, other photos taken from a wider angle – as well as video of the event – shows that this is not what happened.

On July 16, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife greeted the footballers of its national team following a parade down the Champs-Élysée to celebrate their 4-2 victory against Croatia in the World Cup.

Their palace visit took place in a relaxed atmosphere: live video feeds broadcast by many French television stations showed that they posed with the presidential couple on the palace’s steps before singing “I Will Survive” and the national anthem.

The next day, several posts on Facebook claimed that all of the team’s black players had been relegated to the back row. These were accompanied by photos in which all the black players that were visible within the frame were indeed standing in the back. These posts have been shared thousands of times each.
 

"At the Élysée, they put all the blacks players in the back"

"Look at the French once they're at the Élysée, they put the black players in the back. But on the field the black players are in the front"

"Once they got to the Élysée, they put the black players in the back that hurts"
 

However, other photos of the event, taken from a wider angle, show that the black players on the team were not all standing in the back row. Thomas Lemar, Steve Mandanda and N’golo Kanté were in the front, on the left side.
 

Video of the team's arrival at the Élysée Palace.

Some internet users quickly pointed out the error, and noted that the players chose their own spots on the steps.
 

“All the black players in the back row? Do you really think this is like a class photo, where the teacher placed the students himself? You’re not thinking straight. They placed themselves wherever they wanted. Why look for a scandal where there isn’t one?”

“No, I don’t agree with you – I watched the team’s arrival on France 2 [television station], and they all placed themselves where they wanted.”

This case shows that it is important to look for all available photos of a scene, especially when dealing with close-ups, because a different angle can change the perception of a scene.

Learn more about how to verify images with the France 24 Observers' Verification Guide: