French striker Kylian Mbappe criticized, on Sunday, the comments made by the president of his country’s Football Association, Noel Le Graet, regarding former international Zinedine Zidane, saying that they constitute “disrespect for the legend” who won the World Cup.
In response to a question in an interview with Radio Monti about whether Zidane, who was considered by many to be the first choice to coach the national team in the event of non-renewal of Didier Deschamps, had called him in recent days, he said, “Le Greet,” Zinedine Zidane, I would not even answer the call. To tell him what? Hello mister, don’t worry, find another club, I’ve reached an agreement with Deschamps?”
Deschamps’ contract expired after the World Cup in Qatar, where defending champions France lost to Argentina on penalties after a thrilling final on December 18.
After questions about the future, Deschamps signed on Saturday a new contract until the 2026 World Cup.
When asked if Zidane, who won the 1998 World Cup as a player alongside Deschamps, had contacted him in recent days, Le Graet denied that the former Real Madrid coach would be a potential candidate at the head of the technical staff of the Dukes.
Le Grete’s words were not well received by Mbappe, the 2018 World Cup champion in Russia and the 2022 final runner-up, in which he scored a hat-trick.
The Paris Saint-Germain star tweeted, “Zidane is France. We do not underestimate the respect for the legend in this way.”
For her part, Sports Minister Amelie Odia-Castierra demanded an apology from Zidane.
And she tweeted, “Statements far from reality again and this time with a shameful disrespect, which hurts us all, to the legend of football and sports: the president of the first sports federation in France should not say that. Please apologize to Zidane, please.”
Le Grat, 81, also responded curtly to rumors of Zidane’s interest in coaching Brazil: “I would be surprised if he goes there. He does what he wants, it’s none of my business. I haven’t met him and we never thought of parting with Didier Deschamps… He can go where he is.” He wants, in a club, there are many in Europe, a big club, a national team? I care about what concerns me.”
The minister’s reaction comes at a time when the federation is subject to scrutiny and oversight commissioned by the Ministry of Sports to clarify administrative practices, in particular with regard to sexual and gender-based violence. Le Graet and the general director of the federation will be heard next week.