Picture of football fans kissing misleadingly shared as PTI supporters

Photograph doctored and shared as moral policing

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Claim: A viral photograph shows two PTI supporters kissing.

Fact: The picture is, in fact, from the 2014 FIFA World Cup match between Iran and Nigeria, which took place on 17 June 2014. It shows two fans kissing before the match started. The doctored image indicates that the Emblem of Iran has been removed from the flag on the woman’s bandana.

In the days leading up to Pakistani former prime minister Imran Khan’s march to the capital, Islamabad, on 25 May 2022, social media platforms were abuzz with fans and critics fighting each other in comments under posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

A picture of a man and woman wearing the colours of Khan’s political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and sporting face paint in red, white, and green colours, while kissing in celebration appeared on social media, with the claim that the couple were PTI supporters and implying that they were engaging in obscene acts.

The picture featured the following text:

“آپ خود اپنی بہنوں پر ذرا غور کریں
ہم اگر بات کریں گے تو بواسیر ہوگی
[You should perhaps turn your attention towards your sisters
If we talk about them, then things will get ugly]”

The text, “تبدیلی آگئی [The change has come]” — which is the PTI’s slogan — was also added to the image.

Fact or fiction?

Soch Fact Check investigated the photograph by using Google Reverse Image Search and TinEye Reverse Image Search. We found another version of the picture but with different text superimposed on it:

“واہ بھائی واہ کیا تبدیلی ھے لعنت لعنت لعنت عمران خان پر
[Wow, what a change… Curse, curse, curse, on Imran Khan]”

The Google and TinEye reverse image searches led us to a Spanish article by Huffpost, which contains the same photograph sourced to Getty Images. The picture is, in fact, from the 2014 FIFA World Cup match between Iran and Nigeria, which took place on 17 June 2014.

We set a customised search date on Getty Images and looked for the photograph using key terms. The search turned up three pictures of the couple taken by AFP photographer Behrouz Mehri (here and here) and Getty Images photographer Amin Mohammad Jamali (here).

The photos’ captions stated that the shots were from the Group F football match between Iran and Nigeria at the Baixada Arena in Curitiba during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 16, 2014. The photo also appeared on Iraqi media outlet Rudaw Media Network’s Twitter account here the same year.

An analysis of the photos being shared on Pakistani social media also indicates that they were doctored to remove the Emblem of Iran from the centre of the Iranian flag on the woman’s bandana.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found the image shared in the comments of various posts, as shown below, as well as shared as a standalone post here.

The image has been circulating on the Internet since at least 2017; it was posted here, here, here, here, and here on Twitter earlier. However, it has now resurfaced in light of Khan’s political activity following his ouster as the prime minister of Pakistan.

Conclusion: Neither are the people in the photograph PTI supporters nor was the picture taken in Pakistan. The original photograph is from the 2014 FIFA World Cup match between Iran and Nigeria, which took place on 17 June. It shows two fans kissing before the match started. The image has also been doctored as the Emblem of Iran has been removed from the flag on the woman’s bandana to make it look like the couple are PTI supporters due to the tricolour.

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