Kylian Mbappe and Real Madrid have voiced their support for Zinedine Zidane after Noel Le Graet, the French Football Federation (FFF) president, said he “would not even pick up the phone” if he called to discuss becoming the national team head coach.
The FFF recently confirmed that current head coach, Didier Deschamps, will continue in his position after signing a contract extension until July 2026. The 54-year-old led his nation to their second consecutive World Cup final, where they were defeated by Argentina on penalties.
Zidane, a 1998 World Cup winner with France, had been widely tipped as the favourite to succeed Deschamps, but La Graet has claimed he doesn’t care what the former Real Madrid manager does next in his career.
When asked if Zidane could now manage the Brazil national team, La Graet told RMC: “I don’t give a damn, he can go wherever he wants.
“I know very well that Zidane was always on the radar. He had a lot of supporters, some were waiting for Deschamps’s departure… But who can make serious reproaches to Deschamps? Nobody.
“He (Zidane) does what he wants, it’s none of my business. I’ve never met him, we’ve never considered parting with Didier. He can go where he wants, to a club… If Zidane tried to contact me? Certainly not, I wouldn’t even pick up the phone.”
Mbappe, who scored eight goals and subsequently won the golden boot in Qatar, showed solidarity with Zidane in a social media post.
Zidane c’est la France, on manque pas de respect à la légende comme ça… 🤦🏽♂️
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) January 8, 2023
He said on Twitter: “Zidane is France, we don’t disrespect the legend like that.”
Real Madrid published a statement on Monday criticising Le Graet’s “unfortunate statements” about Zidane, “one of the greatest legends of world sport”.
They said: “(Le Graet’s) words imply a lack of respect towards one of the figures most admired by football fans around the world and our club expects an immediate rectification.
“The statements by the president of the French Football Federation are inappropriate for someone who holds that representation and discredits themselves, like the ones he also made about our captain Karim Benzema, current Ballon d’Or, 2021 Nations League winner and winner of 5 Champions League, among many other titles.”
France’s minister for sport, Amelie Oudea-Castera, also criticised Le Graet’s comments, saying: “Yet more out-of-touch comments and on top of that a shameful lack of respect, which hurts us all, towards a legend of football and sport.”
As well as a glittering playing career, Zidane has also starred as a manager and became the first coach to win three Champions League titles in a row while he was at Real Madrid.
Zidane has been out of work since 2021 after leaving Real in May that year.
(Photo: Getty Images)
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