France football chief under fire for ‘disrespectful’ Zidane comments

Paris, Jan 9 (EFE).- Real Madrid, Kylian Mbappé and the French government have accused the president of the French football federation of disrespecting Zinedine Zidane during an inflammatory interview in which he said he would not pick up the phone to the France legend.

Noël Le Graët’s remarks came a day after the FFF confirmed a contract extension for the national team’s current head coach Didier Deschamps until 2026, the year of the next Fifa World Cup.

Pressed for his opinion on Zidane’s chances of managing Brazil now that the France job was taken, the FFF chief told RMC Sunday radio that he did not “give a damn, he can go where he wants.”

Le Graët, 81, added that he “wouldn’t even pick up the phone” to Zidane if the former Real Madrid player and manager had called to discuss the role of France coach.

“To say what? Hello sir, don’t worry, look for another club, I’m sticking with Didier,” he said.

The interview sparked a hail of criticism.

Current France star Kylian Mbappé voiced his disapproval in a tweet to his over 11 million followers Sunday saying: “Zidane is France, don’t disrespect a legend like that.”

Retired France stars including Franck Ribery and Djibril Cisse also came to Zidane’s defense.

On Monday, French sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra called on Le Graët to apologize for his “shameful” statements.

Real Madrid, where Zidane holds legendary status as a former player and manager, released an official statement Monday urging Le Graët to rectify his “inappropriate comments.”

“These remarks show a lack of respect for one of the most admired figures by football fans around the world and our club is awaiting an immediate correction.

“Zinedine Zidane, World and European champion representing his country, amongst many other honors, embodies the values of the sport and has proven this throughout his professional career as a player and as a coach.”

Often regarded as one of the best midfielders of all time, Zidane secured hero status at Juventus and Real Madrid in a career that lasted until 2006. Zizou also made 108 appearances for France and lifted the 1998 World Cup after scoring twice in a thrilling final against Brazil.

After hanging up his boots, Zidane returned to the bench as a coach, working his way up to manage Real Madrid’s senior team from 2016-18 and again from 2019-21, in which time he won three Uefa Champions League titles. EFE


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