This photo shows football fans in Paris on the day France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup

An image of a large crowd has been shared thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook that claim it shows a rally held by a presidential poll candidate in North Central Sri Lanka. The claim is false; the image shows football fans who gathered in Paris in July 2018, on the day France won the FIFA World Cup. 

The image of a crowd was published in this Facebook post on October 9, 2019. 

It has been shared more than 3,600 times. 

Below is a screenshot of the misleading Facebook post:

Screenshot of the Facebook post

The Sinhala-language text superimposed on the image translates to English as: 

“A sea of about 400,000 people gathered at the Anuradhapura Salgadu Stadium for Mr. Gotabaya’s inaugural rally. Toiyyas are ruined. Victory is certain!” 

Gotabaya refers to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the presidential poll candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP).  

His inaugural political rally was held on October 9, 2019, at the Salgadu Stadium in Anuradhapura, a city located in North Central Sri Lanka. 

“Toiyya” is a Sinhala phrase coined to troll supporters of the ruling United National Party (UNP). 

The misleading post’s Sinhala-language caption translates to English as: 

“Baiyyas share in the name of victory!”

“Baiyya” is a Sinhala term used to describe supporters of the SLPP, Gotabaya’s party.

The same image was shared here and here on Facebook with a similar claim.

The claim is false; the photo shows a crowd who gathered in Paris on the day France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup. 

A reverse image search on Yandex found this photo published by UK-based photo agecy Alamy on July 15, 2018.

The photo is credited to photographer Samantha Ohlsen.

Below is a screenshot of the image on the Alamy website: 

Screenshot of the image on Alamy website

The photo’s caption states: “Paris, France. 15th July, 2018. Large crowds turn out in Paris to watch France win the World Cup. Paris, France”. 

France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup on July 15, 2018, after defeating  Croatia 4-2 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.  

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image used in the misleading post (L) and the image on Alamy (R) with key identifying feautres highlighted in yellow by AFP: 

Screenshot comparison of the image used in the misleading post (L) and the image in Alamy (R) with key identifying features highlighted in yellow by AFP

A closer analysis of the two images shows the photo in the misleading post had been digitally manipulated, with patches of red added into the crowd, possibly in an attempt to mislead audiences into believing the image was taken at an SLPP rally. 

Red is the official colour of the SLPP.

Below is a screenshot of the image in the misleading post with the areas which were digitally manipulated highlighted by AFP:

Some areas of the image in the misleading post had been digitally manipulated; they have been highlighted by AFP

The original photo was taken at Champ de Mars in Paris.

Below is a screenshot of the same location on Google Street View

Screenshot of Champs De Mars on Google Street View