French military says a soldier wearing a Call of Duty scarf is 'unacceptable'

A spokesperson for the French military has said that a soldier behaved unacceptably by wearing a scarf around his face that bore a grinning skull reminiscent of the character Lieutenant Simon "Ghost" Riley from Call of Duty, AFP reports.

The soldier, whose identity is unknown, was photographed by AFP photographer Issouf Sanogo in central Mali where French troops are currently stationed. Sanogo describes the conditions the soldiers were in that led to the man donning the scarf:

A helicopter was coming in to land and churning up tremendous dust clouds. Instinctively, all the soldiers grabbed their scarfs to avoid getting a mouthful of sand. It was evening, and rays of sunlight were pushing through the trees and into the dust clouds. It was a lovely light. I spotted this soldier wearing a strange scarf and took the photo. At the time, nothing about the scene seemed especially unusual or shocking. The soldier wasn't posing and there was nothing staged about the image. He was just standing there, protecting his face from the dust, waiting for the chopper to land. No one tried to stop me shooting the picture.

Upon seeing the photo, the military command reacted angrily, with a spokesperson in Paris saying the soldier's behavior was "unacceptable."

"This image is not representative of France's actions in Mali," Coloniel Thierry Burkhard said at a news conference.

AFP reports that the photograph received a strong response from the French media, with one newspaper running the headline: "Mali: un soldat se croit dans un jeu vidéo" (Mali: a soldier believes he is in a video game). On Twitter, critics called the wearer of the scarf "shameful".

Kotaku points out that the skull-embalzoned balaclava worn by the Ghost character in Call of Duty was not created by Infinity Ward and did not make its first appearance in the popular game series. Instead, it was the other way around, with the mask first being worn by soldiers in real-life before being adopted by the game.

Colonel Thierry Burkhard says that the army is working to identify the masked man.

More from Polygon

Enemy Starfighter: Homeworld from inside a fighter

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare gameplay trailer

  • Diablo 3 - Xbox One vs. PC comparison

  • Hearthstone - Military Quarter gameplay video

  • Elite: Dangerous Overview video

Latest Discussions

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.