France forward Kylian Mbappe has come out in support of Zinedine Zidane after the country’s football federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet said he would not pick up the phone if the former midfielder called him to discuss coaching the national team.
The FFF had 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.
When asked if Zidane, a World Cup winner with France in 1998 and a national icon, would now manage the Brazilian national team instead, Le Graet told RMC: “I don’t give a damn, he can go wherever he wants.
“I know very well that Zidane was always on the radar. He had a lot of supporters, some were waiting for Deschamps’s departure… But who can make serious reproaches to Deschamps? Nobody.
“He (Zidane) does what he wants, it’s none of my business. I’ve never met him, we’ve never considered parting with Didier. He can go where he wants, to a club… If Zidane tried to contact me? Certainly not, I wouldn’t even pick up the phone.”
Zidane was the first coach to win the Champions League three times in a row when he was in charge of Real Madrid.
The 50-year-old, who also won the 2000 European Championship with France in a glittering career, is currently without a job after he left his role with the Spanish club last year.
“Zidane is France, we don’t disrespect the legend like that,” Mbappe said on Twitter after Le Graet’s interview was aired.
Le Graet’s dismissal of Zidane as a potential successor to Deschamps comes two years after he had backed the former midfielder to take up the reins if he was available.
France’s Minister for Sports Amelie Oudea-Castera was one of many politicians who reacted to Le Graet’s comments, saying the president of the country’s “biggest sporting federation” 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 also 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.”