Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Soccer Manager Pep Guardiola Refusing To Shake Hands With Israeli Representative

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Soccer Manager Pep Guardiola Refusing To Shake Hands With Israeli Representative Different Man

Did soccer manager Pep Guardiola avoid shaking hands with "the Israeli representative" in May 2024? No, that's not true: A viral video on social media misidentified the man passed over by Guardiola as he greeted a line of well-wishers at a match in 2023. The bypassed man was another soccer manager, Alan Smith.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, by @MyLordBebo on May 27, 2024. It opened:

🇪🇸🇮🇱🚨‼️ The famous Spanish coach Pep Guardiola refused to shake hands with the Israeli representative.

This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-05-31 at 11.17.34 AM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri May 31 15:17:54 2024 UTC)

A reverse image search aimed at finding the earliest version of the footage showed a better-quality video (archived here) uploaded on YouTube on August 7, 2023, under the title "

The fact that it first appeared on the internet two months before Israel started a ground military operation in Gaza in response to the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, places the video outside the context of the war between Israel and Hamas.

At the time, the British tabloid Daily Star identified (archived here) the person bypassed by Guardiola as Alan Smith (archived here), a former manager of a Premier League team opponent -- Crystal Palace.

To double-check the findings, Lead Stories used the Amazon Rekognition facial comparison tool, which confirmed that it was indeed Alan Smith: The man in question from the video shared on social media was a 99.9 percent match to the photo of Smith (archived here) taken a few months later, in December 2023.

Screenshot 2024-05-31 at 11.31.10 AM.png

(Source: Amazon Rekognition screenshot taken on Fri May 31 15:31:10 2024 UTC)

Guardiola has been the Manchester City manager since 2016 (archived here). On that day in August 2023, his team lost the game (archived here).

In 2023, Smith commented (archived here) on the incident on X by saying he was "not sure" why Guardiola bypassed him, suggesting that Guardiola could have been in a rush or thought that Smith "was Arsenal."

When the video resurfaced in late May 2024, Smith described (archived here) it as a "mistaken identity" and replied with a laughing emoji:

Screenshot 2024-05-31 at 1.04.31 PM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri May 31 17:04:31 2024 UTC)

The account that posted the claim about Guardiola previously spread other false statements debunked by Lead Stories, for example, here.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about the Hamas-Israel war can be found here; stories about sports are here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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