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French football President apologises for “clumsy” comments against Zidane



French football federation president Noel le Graet has apologised for “clumsy remarks” he made about Zinedine Zidane’s potential interest in coaching the national team.

In an interview with French radio, 81-year-old Le Graet said he “wouldn’t even have taken his call” if Zidane had been in touch.

Le Graet said on Monday the comments “do not reflect” his views.

France boss Didier Deschamps signed a new contract until 2026 on Saturday.

“I would like to apologise 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.

“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.”

Zidane won the 1998 World Cup as a player alongside Deschamps and two La Liga titles and three consecutive Champions League titles as Real Madrid manager before his departure last year.

France and Paris St-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe described Le Graet’s comments as “disrespectful”.

France’s Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera demanded an apology from Le Graet for “a shameful lack of respect”.

Real released a statement calling for an “immediate rectification” following Le Graet’s “inappropriate” comments.

Deschamps guided France to a second successive World Cup final in December, when they lost to Argentina on penalties.

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 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.”

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