LE PECQ (France) — Monday’s apology by the president of France’s soccer federation came after Kylian Mbappe and Real Madrid took him to task over his brusque remarks that he couldn’t care less about Zinedine zidane’s future coaching career.
Noel Le Graet stated that his radio comments were “clumsy”, and didn’t “absolutely reflect my thinking or my consideration for what he was and what he’s become.” Le Graet’s apology has been widely covered in French media.
Le Graet was a guest of RMC radio on Sunday. He was asked questions about rumors that Zidane was linked to Brazil’s national soccer team.
I’d be shocked if he did go there. He can do whatever he wants, so it does not concern me. “I have never had the pleasure of meeting him (Zidane) and I (the FFF), never thought about parting with Didier,” Le Graet stated to RMC.
When asked if he would be unhappy to have Zidane coach Brazil, his answer was: “I could not care less.” He’s free to go wherever he wants.”
Le Graet answered a question regarding whether Zidane had called him recently. He said: “Certainly, not. I wouldn’t have even picked up the telephone.”
Mbappe, World Cup Star, posted a tweet late Sunday saying that Zidane was France and that you shouldn’t be disrespective to a legend such as Le Graet.
Amelie Oudea–Castera, France’s sports minister, went one step further and asked Le Graet for an apology to Zidane. She used inverted commas for Le Graet’s role at FFF.
“A president of France’s top sport federation should not make such statements.” She wrote: “Please, excuse me for being too harsh on Zidane.”
Oudea–Castera has ordered an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Le Graet.
Le Graet was put under more pressure by the minister, who called a press conference Monday night where she criticized his stewardship and accused him of damaging our image.
The minister stated that France’s football players “deserve more.” The minister urged the federation’s executive committee to intervene and invoked French President Emmanuel Macron. He said he was as disappointed and shocked by her actions as we were all.
Real Madrid spoke out in support of Zidane. Its former star player, and title-winning coach said: “These comments show a lack respect for one the most beloved figures by football lovers around the globe and our club will be seeking an immediate correction.”
Zidane, a former playmaker, led Les Bleus in their 1998 World Cup victory and was again a star when the team won the European Championship 2000. He was in the final of two World Cups, and was also on the losing team once.
Le Graet apologized in a statement made to French news agency Agence France-Presse, which was then transmitted by other French media. The federation’s press office declined to communicate Le Graet’s apology with The Associated Press.
Le Graet also attempted to avoid responsibility and shift blame to RMC interviewers. “I gave an interview that I shouldn’t have given to RMC because it sought a polemic against Didier Zidane, which are two monuments to French football. It is true that my remarks were a bit hurried, which led to misunderstandings. Zinedine Zidane is aware of the respect that I have for him like any French person.
Jerome Pugmire, Paris, contributed.
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