Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation, has apologized for making “clumsy remarks” about Zinedine Zidane, which were condemned by footballers, politicians, and Real Madrid.
In the French press, Zidane was linked to the job of becoming the France team manager, only for current coach Didier Deschamps to extend his contract after leading the team to the World Cup final, where they were defeated by Argentina on penalties.
“I don’t give a damn, he can go wherever he wants,” the 81-year-old Le Graet said this when Zidane was asked if he could now manage the Brazil national team.
He went on to say that Zidane’s future is “none of my business” and that he “wouldn’t even have taken his call” if Zidane had called.
However, Le Graet stated on Monday that the remarks “do not reflect” his views.
“I would like to present my personal apologies for these remarks which absolutely do not reflect my thoughts, nor my consideration for the player he was and the coach he has become,” Le Graet said in a statement reported by L’Equipe.
“I admit that I made awkward remarks which created a misunderstanding. Zidane knows the immense esteem I have for him, like all French people.”
The golden boot winner and the top scorer in he just ended Qatar World Cup,Kylian Mbappe expressed his support for Zinedine Zidane in his social media post.
He tweeted: “Zidane is France, we don’t disrespect the legend like that.”
Real Madrid also criticized Le Graet’s clumsy comments about Zidane in a statement published on Monday, “one of the greatest legends of world sport”.
Madrid stated: “(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.”
Amelie Oudea-Castera, France’s minister for sport, also condemned 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.”
Zinedine Zidane played for the France national team 108 times, netting 31 goals and helping his side to win the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.
Currently, he (Zidane) has been off managerial job since 2021 after leaving Real Madrid in May that year.