Deschamps forced to explain 'sporting rivalry' with Zidane as Le Graet controversy puts coach in awkward spot

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20230107 Didier Deschamps
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France coach Didier Deschamps insisted he has "respect" for Zinedine Zidane after controversial quotes from Noel Le Graet.
  • Le Graet extended Deschamps contract
  • Controversially said he never considered Zidane
  • FFF ousted Le Graet on Wednesday

WHAT HAPPENED? French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet recently sparked controversy when he claimed he "wouldn't even have picked up the phone" if Zidane called about taking over as national team manager. His remarks came following the news that Deschamps had extended his contract with France until 2026.

Le Graet was forced to resign on Wednesday under pressure, while Deschamps is left to pick up the pieces.

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WHAT THEY SAID: "Regarding the latest news, with the statements of my president, of course, his remarks, as he recognized and admitted, were inappropriate," Deschamps said. "I think it's a very good thing that he was able to apologise to Zizou.

"For my part, obviously, the situation has led to a sporting rivalry between [myself and Zidane], even for some to [argue about]. I can assure you today like yesterday and for years that I have had a lot of respect for him, in relation to what we lived and shared together in our first life as players and in relation to what he is and represents in French football and sport. I'm not going to make any other statement, that's not the place."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Le Graet's words were instantly challenged with Kylian Mbappe insisting that a legend should not be disrespected like that. Real Madrid also came to Zidane's defence, saying: "These remarks show a lack of respect for one of the most admired figures by football fans around the world."


Zidane 1998


Deschamps Le Graet 2022

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Zinedine Zidane 2022


WHAT NEXT FOR FRANCE? Amid all the drama, the FFF has now announced the withdrawal of Noel Le Graet as president.