French far-right leader Bardella slams Mbappe on election comments

By Thomson Reuters Jun 18, 2024 | 8:25 AM

PARIS (Reuters) – French far-right leader Jordan Bardella criticised star footballer Kylian Mbappe on Tuesday for his call on the youth to vote against the “extremes” in parliamentary elections this month.

“I have a lot of respect for our footballers, whether Marcus Thuram or Kylian Mbappe, who are icons of football and icons for youth … But we must respect the French, we must respect everyone’s vote,” Bardella told CNews TV.

“When you’re lucky enough to have a very, very big salary, when you are a multi-millionaire … then I’m a little embarrassed to see these athletes … give lessons to people who can no longer make ends meet, who no longer feel safe, who do not have the chance to live in neighborhoods overprotected by security agents,” he said.

France captain Mbappe, who is hugely popular, said on Sunday, during a press conference on the eve of France’s opening match at Euro 2024 that “the extremes are knocking at the doors of power.”

Forward Marcus Thuram had earlier urged people to “fight daily” to prevent Bardella’s National Rally (RN) from gaining power.

Mbappe did not name the RN but said he supported the same values and position as Thuram.

“Kylian Mbappe is against extreme views and against ideas that divide people. I want to be proud to represent France, I don’t want to represent a country that doesn’t correspond to my values, or our values,” Mbappe said.

That call resonated with some youths in Mbappe’s old neighbourhood, an underprivileged Paris suburb, but was immediately criticised by the RN.

Bardella was speaking a day after France won its Euro 2024 opening match in which Mbappe suffered a broken nose.

Bardella’s eurosceptic, anti-immigration party has its first real chance of winning national power in the June 30 and July 7 ballot. Opinion polls have consistently placed the RN first since President Emmanuel Macron’s shock decision this month to dissolve parliament.

Meanwhile, French Football Federation President Philippe Diallo told a press conference at the team’s camp in Germany that players were free to express their opinion. He urged political parties not to use these comments to their benefit.

(Writing by Ingrid Melander; additional reporting by Martin Petty in Duesseldorf; Editing by Toby Chopra)