PARIS (AP) — Kylian Mbappé stepped in to defend Zinedine Zidane following dismissive comments toward the France great from French soccer federation president Noël Le Graët on Sunday.
The former playmaker Zidane is considered among the greats of world soccer and led Les Bleus to their first World Cup title in 1998 and starred again when they won the European Championship in 2000. He scored in two World Cup finals and was on the losing side once, just like Mbappé has been.
Le Graët, who recently extended current France coach Didier Deschamps’ contract until July 2026, was a guest on RMC radio’s talk show on Sunday. He was asked about rumors linking Zidane to take over the vacant Brazil coaching role from the departing Tite.
“I’d be surprised if he went there. But he can do what he likes, it doesn’t concern me. I’ve never met with him (Zidane), and we (the FFF) never considered parting ways with Didier,” Le Graët told RMC. “Would it upset me that (Zidane) went there? I couldn’t care less. He can go where he likes, to a big team, a national team … Did Zidane try to contact me? Certainly not, I wouldn’t even have picked up the phone.”
France’s sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, who reportedly has tense relations with Le Graët, went a step further than Mbappé, whose tweet didn’t refer to Le Graët by name. She asked Le Graët to apologize to Zidane. She even used inverted commas to address him as president.
“A shameful lack of respect, which hurts us all, toward a legend of our sport,” Oudéa-Castéra wrote on Twitter. “A ‘president’ of the top sporting federation in France should not say that. Apologies, please, for going too far on Zidane.”
Le Graët has faced claims of sexual harassment and the FFF has been the target of an investigation ordered by Oudéa-Castéra.
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