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French federation head apologizes after uproar over Zidane

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FILE – Head of French Football Federation (FFF) Noel Le Graet attends a press conference in Paris, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. The president of France’s soccer federation apologized Monday Jan.9, 2023 after Kylian Mbappé, the French sports minister and Real Madrid all took him to task for brusque comments that he “couldn’t care less” about Zinédine Zidane’s future as a coach. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File) CHRISTOPHE ENA AP

The French Football Federation (FFF) president, Noel le Graet has apologized to Zinedine Zidane for his “clumsy remarks” against the French football legend.

Before now, the 81-year-old Le Graet claimed in a radio interview with a French station that he “wouldn’t even have taken his call” if Zinedine Zidane had called him.

Contrary to the viral interpretation that was given to the remarks, Le Graet claimed on Monday that the remarks “do not reflect” his views. On Saturday, Didier Deschamps, the manager of France, signed a new deal that runs through 2026, after viral reports that Zidane was interested in the job.

Earlier, when the FFF president was asked whether Zidane called him about the France head coach’s job, Le Graet said: “I wouldn’t even have taken his call. To tell him what? ‘Hello, sir. Don’t worry. Look for another club. I just agreed on a contract with Didier.’

“It’s up to him what he does. It’s not my business. I’ve never met him and we’ve never considered parting with Didier. He can go where he wants, to a club. He would have as many as he wants in Europe, a big club. But a national side is hardly credible, to my mind.” In reaction to that, PSG and France’s forward Kylian Mbappe called Le Graet’s remarks “disrespectful.”

Also, France’s minister of sports, Amelie Oudea-Castera, urged Le Graet to apologize for his “terrible lack of respect.”“I would like to apologize for these remarks, which absolutely do not reflect my views nor my consideration for the player he was and the coach he has become,” Le Graet said on Monday.

“I gave an interview to [French radio station] RMC that I should not have given because they were looking for controversy by opposing Didier and Zinedine Zidane, two greats of French football.

“I admit that I made some clumsy remarks which created a misunderstanding.”

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