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Debunked: Photo shows World Cup celebrations, not an anti-vaccine pass protest in Paris

Social media posts have falsely described a photo from France in 2018 as a recent anti-restrictions protest.

For Covid factchecks

A WIDELY SHARED photo of Paris, France has been falsely described as showing hundreds of thousands of people at a protest against Covid-19 restrictions and vaccines.

The image of a woman holding a French flag behind her overlooking the Champs-Elysées has been reshared hundreds of times and framed as a massive demonstration against Covid-19 restrictions that should be replicated in Ireland, and elsewhere. 

The photo is actually from when France won the World Cup in 2018 and shows people celebrating the team’s victory.

The mislabelled photo appeared on Twitter and Telegram on 18 July with the caption that read: “People are waking up against vaccine tyranny and new world order!”. 

The same image was uploaded to an Irish Facebook page the following day making a similar claim: “Wow a magnificent turn out for France by a people against further draconian restrictions, medical apartheid and discriminative measures.”

There have been recent well-attended protests in France against the government’s plan to massively extend a “health pass” system that will require people to produce evidence of vaccination or a negative test when they visit public venues such as restaurants, bars or shopping centres.

virus-outbreak-france-anti-vaccine-protests Anti-vaccine protesters march during a rally in Paris, Saturday, July 17, 2021. Source: Michel Euler/PA

However, the photo in question shows celebrations in Paris after France won the 2018 World Cup against Croatia. The photo was taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe by AFP photographer Ludovic Marin

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2018-fifa-world-cup-france-wins-final-france-vs-croatia-supporters-paris-am Alternative view: People celebrate on the Champs Elysees avenue after the final of the 2018 World Cup - 15 July 2018 Source: Marechal Aurore/ABACA

This type of misinformation about protests has appeared on social media in Ireland and abroad throughout the pandemic.

Last December, photos of the 2018 World Cup celebrations were also used to imply there had been a large-scale protest in Paris against restrictions in what they described as “France standing up” and a “full out war”.

Earlier this year, a photo of Bucharest, Romania was falsely described as showing hundreds of thousands of people at a protest against Covid-19 restrictions. The photo actually shows a 2017 protest in Bucharest against a loosening of anti-corruption rules. 


There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 


Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere. 

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate. 

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email:

About the author:

Adam Daly

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