Viral tweet of Afghan player apologising for feud with Asif Ali is doctored

After a violent on-field confrontations between Pakistan’s Asif Ali and Afghanistan’s Farid Malik at an Asia Cup 2022 cricket match, a doctored screenshot of the Afghan player apologising for his actions was widely shared on social media

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Claim: A screenshot of Afghan cricket player Farid Malik apologising after for a recent on-field feud with Pakistan’s Asif Ali was widely shared on social media

Fact: The Twitter account purportedly representing Farid Malik is fake, and neither player has issued an apology for the verbal spat, which turned violent.

Pakistan’s cricket team faced off against Afghanistan’s in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Asia Cup on 7 September 2022. 

During the match, a heated exchange took place between Afghanistan’s bowler Farid Malik and Pakistan’s batsman Asif Ali, which began with a verbal spat but escalated to a physical confrontation, until they were separated by team-mates. The ICC took equal disciplinary action against both players.

At 11:46 PM on 7 September 2022, an account ostensibly belonging to the Afghan cricketer Farid Malik, tweeted an apology on behalf of the player, reading “میں پاکستانی کرکٹ فینز سے اپنے غیر مہذبانہ رویے کی معافی مانگتا ہوں۔ میں شاید جذبات پر قابو نہیں رکھ سکا۔ ہم سب کھلاڑی آپس میں اچھے دوست ہیں۔ [I  apologise to Pakistan’s cricket fans for my rude behavior. Perhaps I couldn’t control my emotions. All of us players are good friends.]”. 

The account tweeted similar statements in Urdu and English but not in any Afghan language. 

The statements were widely shared on Twitter and other social media sites. A prominent local newspaper, Daily Times, published a report headlined “Afghan fast bowler apologises to Asif Ali, Pakistan” based on the aforementioned tweets. Dozens of blogs and digital media outlets on Facebook also shared the post. Bol Television journalist Usama Ghazi shared the tweets in a video on Youtube.

Fact or Fiction?

The account @FaridMalikCric was created on 7 September 2022, and the account’s first tweet was the apology.

A search for the term “Farid Malik cricketer” on Twitter led us to another Twitter account in Farid Malik’s name. This account’s first tweet is a personal picture of the cricketer posted in January 2021.

The account is followed by verified profiles of Afghan cricket players Mohammad Nabi, Hashmat Shahidi, Gulbadin Naib, and others.

Verified accounts of Afghanistan cricket team players are following the account with the username @fareedmalik56

On 11 September 2022, this account tweeted “I am Farid Malik, a player of the Afghanistan national cricket team, and @fareedmalik56 is my only Twitter account.”

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 10-day period since 7 September 2022 to 17 September 2022 using the following search terms:

  • “Farid Malik” “Apology”
  • “معافی” “فرید ملک”

The apology statement tweeted from the fake account reached more than 50,181 followers and 16,739 interactions. We also searched the above-mentioned phrases on Crowdtangle and found tweets sharing the claim here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

Conclusion: A statement apologising to Pakistan’s fans after an on-field confrontation with Pakistan’s Asif Ali during a cricket match was published by a Twitter account pretending to be Afghan player Farid Malik. Screenshots of the tweets widely shared on social media are misleading.

 

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