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France's Mbappe takes surprise political stance at Euros

Last updated on: June 17, 2024 22:49 IST
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IMAGE: Mbappe during a training session for France ahead of their Euro '24 tournament opener.Photograph: Stephane Mahe /Reuters

With France facing political turmoil, Kyilan Mbappe used the pre-match press conference to address the nation. He called the situation "dire" and urged young people to fight against extremism gaining power.

This comes despite the French Football Federation's request for the team's neutrality. Mbappe, however, didn't shy away, emphasizing his belief in diversity and tolerance.

While not revealing specifics, Mbappe hinted at a team action to address the situation. He stressed the importance of the issue, calling it "more important than the game."

Mbappe's teammate, Marcus Thuram, echoed his sentiment, urging people to fight against the far-right. Coach Didier Deschamps backed his players' right to express their views.

Despite the political storm, Mbappe assured fans the team remains focused on winning their opening match against Austria.

Mbappe's call to vote resonates with youth

IMAGE: France Captain Mbappe in action during a friendly in the lead-up to the UEFA European Championships.Photograph: Stephane Mahe /Reuters

In the Paris suburb where footballer Kylian Mbappe grew up, 22-year old Leana Aggoune said that she agrees with the French striker's call on young people to vote in the French parliamentary election this month.

Many people here are children of immigrants, like the six-time Ligue 1 top goal scorer and national team captain, who was born in Paris to parents of Cameroonian and Algerian heritage.

Aggoune, a careworker, had not cared much about the European election earlier this month, or the previous parliamentary election two years ago. But she feels it is different this time, with the far-right National Rally (RN) leading in surveys.

"I feel like it is going to affect us more, or maybe I'm more conscious, but I feel like it is important for our future," said Aggoune, speaking outside a fast food restaurant

in Bondy.

"They want to make us leave, they're racist and against us," she said of the RN.

The RN strongly denies it is racist but proposes anti-immigration policies, including to limit welfare benefits, social housing and jobs for non-French citizens, stop family reunification of immigrants and limit citizenship. It is hostile to Islam, having proposed in the past to ban the hijab in public spaces and close down mosques and schools.

Mbappe said during a press conference on the eve of France's opening game at Euro2024 that "the extremes are knocking at the doors of power... we need to identify with our values - of diversity, tolerance and respect".

He was indirect about his own politics but said he supported the same values and position as his teammate Marcus Thuram, who has clearly called for voters to make sure that the RN "does not pass".

Mbappe rules out playing at Paris Games after Real Madrid move    

IMAGE: Mbappe will be joining UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid in the biggest transfer this summer. Photograph: Stephane Mahe /Reuters

Kylian Mbappe confirmed on Sunday he will not play for France's Olympic team at the Paris Games as his new club Real Madrid are against the idea.

The 25-year-old said in March that he was keen on playing at his home Games but since the Olympic soccer tournament is not on FIFA’s calendar clubs are not obliged to release their players.

Mbappe was not included in a 25-man preliminary squad for the Olympics earlier this month, though head coach Thierry Henry left the door open.

"My club's position was very clear, so from that moment on, I think I (knew) I won't be taking part in the Games," Mbappe told reporters ahead of Monday's Group D match against Austria at Euro 2024.

"That's just the way it is, and I understand that too. I'm joining a new team in September, so it's not the best way to start an adventure.

"I'm going to wish this French team all the best. I'm going to watch every game. I hope they'll win the gold medal."

The men's Olympic football competition begins on July 24, 10 days after the European Championships final, and ends on Aug. 9.

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Paris Olympics 2024

Paris Olympics 2024