French federation boss apologizes for ‘clumsy’ Zidane comments

French football boss, Noel Le Graet, apologised on Monday for what he called his “clumsy remarks” about Zinedine Zidane’s potential interest in being coach the France national team.

The 81-year-old Le Graet had made a witty remark during an interview on French radio that he “wouldn’t even have taken his call on the phone.” He said this when asked whether Zidane had called him to mention any interest in supplanting Didier Deschamps as coach.

That prompted the France and Paris Saint-Germain star, Kylian Mbappe, to criticize Le Graet. Mbappe even dubbed his comments “disrespectful”.

French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera also came into the matter, demanding that Le Graet apologizes for his comments. She too said his comments showed “a shameful lack of respect.”

The Head of the French Football Federation thus made his apology on Monday, saying: “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.

“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.”

The current coach, Didier Deschamps’ contract expired after the World Cup in Qatar, where reigning champions France lost to Argentina in a penalty shootout after a thrilling final on December 18.

However, Deschamps on Saturday signed a new deal until the 2026 World Cup.

Asked in the RMC interview whether Zidane, who won the 1998 World Cup as a player alongside Deschamps and was a runner-up in 2006, had called him in recent days, Le Graet dismissed the former Real Madrid coach as having been a potential candidate.

He 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’.”

Le Graet also responded in a curt manner regarding reports of Zidane’s desire to coach the Brazil team.

“I would be surprised if he left for there,” he said.

“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 Deschamps.

“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.”

Zidane left Real Madrid last year having won two La Liga titles and three consecutive Champions League titles as manager of the Spanish club.