Emmanuel Macron wades into Zinedine Zidane ‘phone call’ row engulfing French football as he ‘sounds out Michel Platini to replace under-fire Noel Le Graet as FA chief’… with the scandal-hit former UEFA president ‘open to the role’
- FFF president Noel Le Graet sparked a furious backlash with his dismissive comments that he ‘wouldn’t have taken Zidane’s call’ over France job
- Didier Deschamps has agreed an extension to 2026 despite World Cup final loss
- Le Graet, 81, claimed it is ‘hardly credible’ for Zidane to take over national side
- His comments sparked fury from Real Madrid, Kylian Mbappe and ministers
- Now President Emmanuel Macron has reportedly intervened in the controversy
- He has sounded out Michel Platini to replace Le Graet in the top FFF role
French president Emmanuel Macron ‘has intervened’ in the growing controversy over Noel Le Graet’s dismissive comments about Zinedine Zidane – by sounding out Michel Platini for the role of football federation chief.
Le Graet claimed he ‘wouldn’t even have taken Zidane’s call’ if the 1998 World Cup winner enquired about replacing Didier Deschamps as France’s manager, comments which sparked a fierce backlash.
The 81-year-old French football federation president later apologised and backtracked but it has emerged the row has now escalated to the highest level of the country’s government.
President Emmanuel Macron has reportedly intervened in the Zinedine Zidane ‘phone call’ controversy that has hit the top of French football
Macron reportedly sounded out scandal-hit former UEFA president Michael Platini to replace Noel Le Graet as FFF chief
RMC Sport journalist Daniel Riolo reported that Macron took matters into his own hands by approaching Platini to see if he’d be interested in replacing Le Graet, who appears to be on his way out.
Riolo said 67-year-old Platini ‘hasn’t completely closed the door’ on a return to football administration following a bruising time as UEFA president and then an eight-year ban from the sport alongside the disgraced Sepp Blatter.
A Swiss court cleared Platini of corruption and fraud charges in July last year.
Platini would consider taking the position if offered it, the report said, though those around him aren’t sure it would be a sensible move.
Noel Le Graet (L) claimed that he would not have picked up a phone call from Zidane
Zidane won three consecutive Champions League titles in his first spell as Real Madrid boss
It is the latest development in a storm that began when Le Graet, talking about whether Deschamps would continue after France’s World Cup final defeat to Argentina, was dismissive of Zidane.
‘I wouldn’t even have taken his call,’ said Le Graet. ‘To tell him what? “Hello sir, don’t worry. Look for another club. I just agreed a contract with Didier.”
‘It’s up to him what he does. It’s not my business. I’ve never met him and we’ve never considered parting with Didier.
‘He can go where he wants, to a club. He would have as many as he wants in Europe, a big club. But a national side is hardly credible, to my mind.’
Didier Deschamps has agreed to extend his contract as France national team manager
France suffered defeat to Argentina on penalties after a thrilling final in Qatar last month
Deschamps has agreed a contract extension until 2026 World Cup in North America but Le Graet’s harsh comments about Zidane, a three-time Champions League winner as Real Madrid coach, touched a nerve.
France star Kylian Mbappe wrote on Twitter that ‘Zidane is France, we don’t disrespect the legend like that.’
Real released an official statement in defence of Zidane, referring to him as ‘one of the greatest legends of world sport’ and demanding an ‘immediate rectification.’
Kylian Mbappe took issue with the FFF president’s comments and claimed ‘Zidane is France’
France’s sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera demanded an apology for Le Graet’s ‘shameful lack of respect.’
In response, Le Graet said: ‘I would like to apologise for these remarks, which absolutely do not reflect my views nor my consideration for the player he was and the coach he has become.
‘I gave an interview to [French radio station] RMC that I should not have given because they were looking for controversy by opposing Didier and Zinedine Zidane, two greats of French football.
‘I admit that I made some clumsy remarks which created a misunderstanding.’
Despite his contrition, Le Graet is struggling to cling on to his post, especially if Macron is already apparently sounding out his successor.