Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe have both leapt to the defence of Zinedine Zidane after he was the subject of a strange tirade by French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet.
Zidane was long considered the frontrunner to replace Didier Deschamps as manager of the French national team following the World Cup, but his former teammate instead opted to renew his contract as Les Bleus boss until 2026.
Le Graet then spoke to RMC about Zidane’s future prospects amid links to the Brazil job, stating: “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.”
Le Graet’s outspoken comments have received widespread backlash in France, with Mbappe leading the fight in defence of Zidane.
“Zidane is France, we don’t disrespect the legend like that,” Mbappe said on Twitter.
Real Madrid, where Zidane won multiple titles as a player and manager, have since released a statement decrying Le Graet’s ‘inappropriate’ comments.
“Real Madrid C. F. laments the unfortunate comments made by the president of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, regarding Zinedine Zidane, one of the world’s biggest sporting legends,” a statement read.
“These remarks show a lack of respect for one of the most admired figures by football fans around the world and our club is awaiting an immediate correction. Zinedine Zidane, World and European champion representing his country, amongst many other honours, he embodies the values of the sport and has proven this throughout his professional career as a player and as a coach.
“The statements by the president of the French Football Federation are inappropriate for someone holding such representation and are in themselves unsuitable, like those he also made about our captain Karim Benzema, current Ballon d’Or, Nations League champion with France in 2021 and winner of 5 Champions Leagues, amongst many other honours.”
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