Politics 0

19.06.2024.

12:21

Mbappe, just play football!

French President Emmanuel Macron has received unexpected support from French footballers for the upcoming national elections.

Izvor: Njuzvik

Mbappe, just play football!
Tanjug/AP Photo/Hassan Amma

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The first to speak on the subject, during a press conference in Germany, where the French national football team is participating in the European Championship, was the forward of the French national team Marcus Thuram, who called on his fellow citizens to "fight every day" to prevent the nationalist far-right from winning power in extraordinary parliamentary elections scheduled for later this month.

"I think the situation is sad," Thuram said when asked about a potential victory for Marine Le Pen's National Front party. "That is the sad reality of our society today. As Usman (Dembele) said, we must tell everyone to go and vote. We must all fight every day so that this does not happen, and that the national assembly fails," said Thuram.

And then he was joined by his colleague from the French national team and captain Kylian Mbappe, considered one of the best footballers in the world. Mbappe, 25, echoed Thuram's sentiments and urged young voters in France to vote "against extremists," Newsweek reported.

"Today we can all see that the extremists are very close to winning power, and we have the opportunity to choose the future of our country," said Mbappe.

Although the football superstar, as Newsweek writes, did not directly mention any politician by name, it was known who the comments were referring to. That's why Marine Le Pen's party reacted immediately, criticizing Mbappe, who was told that it would be better if he "just sticks to sports".

"When you have the opportunity, the honor to wear the shirt of the French team, you have to show some restraint," said Sébastien Chenault, vice-president of the Le Pen party.

French sports minister Amélie Oueda-Castera then spoke out to support Mbappe's political statement, saying: "He wanted to speak to young people at a decisive moment for the future of the country."

As the text explains, the French national football team has long been considered a symbol of diversity in the country but has faced criticism from the far right that it is "not too France".

The team currently playing at Euro 2924 includes several black players among the 26 members, as well as players of Arab origin.

"For some, this diversity symbolized the glorious future of France, integrating people of different origins. However, the National Front and others complained that the team did not reflect most of the French population," Stéphane Gerson, French studies and history professor at New York University, reported Newsweek.

Marcus Thuram, who plays for Inter Milan in addition to the French national team, is the son of Lilian Thuram, the former French soccer star who helped France win the World Cup in 1998. Born in Guadeloupe, Lilian had a history of disagreements with the National Front and its former leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, the father of Marine Le Pen.

"Significantly, Thuram's son is the first to speak out against the extreme right, continuing the political genealogy of advocating for diversity and addressing issues of racial violence," Gerson said.

On Sunday, several French sports figures, including former tennis stars Yannick Noah, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, and track and field star Marie-José Perret, called for a vote against the far-right in an op-ed for sports daily L'Equipe.

And the former French national team player, the famous Thierry Henry, now coach of the French Olympic team, also called on voters to "block the extremes".

According to Gerson, the athletes' endorsements come at a critical time, with Macron's party performing poorly in the polls while Le Pen's is surging.

However, following Thuram and Mbappe's comments, the French Football Federation banned its European Championship players from making any further statements about the upcoming elections.

French voters will go to the polls on June 29 and 30, coinciding with the quarter-final stage of the tournament in Germany.

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