Le Graet under fire for disrespecting Zidane

January 9 – Not for the first time, French football has been hit by an internal war of words, this time over controversial comments made by French football federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet about national icon Zinedine Zidane (pictured).

Le Graet declared in an interview he would not even answer the phone if he was called by Zidane to discuss coaching the national team.

The FFF announced head coach Didier Deschamps’s contract extension on Saturday after he led France to a second consecutive World Cup final, where they lost to Argentina on penalties in Qatar last month.

Zidane had previously been a favourite to succeed Deschamps. But when asked if Zidane, a World Cup and European Championship winner as a player with France, might now manage the Brazilian national team instead, Le Graet was quoted as saying:  “I don’t give a damn, he can go wherever he wants.

“If Zidane tried to contact me I wouldn’t even pick up the phone.”

Zidane, who won the Champions League three times in a row when he was in charge of Real Madrid, is currently without a job and sporting stars and politicians accused Le Graet of disrespect.

“Zidane is France, we don’t disrespect the legend like that,” Kylian Mbappe posted on Twitter.

France’s Minister for Sports Amelie Oudea-Castera also got in on the act saying Le Graet had crossed a line.

“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,” she wrote on Twitter.

French politician Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade demanded an apology from Le Graet, saying on Twitter: “Zidane is a monument of French football and sport. A personality loved by all French people… Our football deserves better than that.”

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