Kylian Mbappe slams French football president for 'disrespecting' Zinedine Zidane

Noel Le Graet said he 'wouldn't even pick up the phone' to discuss with Zidane about taking over as Les Bleus coach

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French forward Kylian Mbappe has leapt to the defence of Zinedine Zidane after French Football Federation chief Noel Le Graet said he "wouldn't even pick up the phone" to the World Cup winner to discuss coaching the national team.

Zidane had been touted to replace former teammate Didier Deschamps as coach of the national team before the latter signed a contract extension on Saturday after he led France to a second consecutive World Cup final last month.

Though Les Bleus lost the final on penalties to Lionel Messi's Argentina, the FFF have decided to keep faith with Deschamps, who has guided France to a World Cup title as both a player and coach. He has been head coach of the national team since 2012.

When asked if Zidane, a World Cup winner alongside Deschamps with France in 1998 and a national hero, 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's own coaching credentials certainly stand up to scrutiny. He was the first coach to win the Champions League three times in a row when he was in charge of Real Madrid and also guided them to two league titles and two Club World Cups.

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," Paris Saint-Germain striker 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 FFF president 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."

Updated: January 09, 2023, 8:12 AM
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