“Like Chirac, Macron has a direct relationship with athletes and like Sarkozy, he loves sport very much”

5:47 p.m. May 24, 2022

Two unlikely agents tried to weigh Kylian Mbappé’s extension to Paris Saint-Germain: Emmanuel Macron and Nicolas Sarkozy. ” We talked a lot and they urged me to stay in my country and continue writing the history of my club.confided Kylian Mbappé on TF1 TV on Monday. But the final decision was a personal one. “The current and former heads of state are two supposed football fans. The first is a fervent supporter of Marseille and the second of PSG. The Presidents of the Fifth Republic were not always fanatics of the round ball. For Jean-Baptiste Guégan, co-author of The republic of footballthis growing executive interest is in response to the also growing media coverage of the sport.

Is this the first time a past president, or even a current president, has given advice to a player on career choices?
Mbappé is the most influential footballer today and what is certain is that Emmanuel Macron has a very close relationship with him. When they meet, they sometimes lay aside to discuss. They have a lot in common: they are precocious, they are ten years ahead of their time and they have turned their world upside down. Nicolas Sarkozy, that’s him Mr. PSG. He inevitably knows what’s happening there because he’s close to the shareholders. He is someone who knows the history of the club very well. Even if he has a more distant relationship with Mbappé, it exists. Your involvement in Mbappé’s contract extension is not pressure, for me it’s more of an influence. What will a player look out for when there are two comparable contract offers? Mbappé could sign for Real Madrid, considered the best club in the world, or his hometown club. So it’s not a question of money. He will look for something else. He was offered to be a prophet in his country. Emmanuel Macron and Nicolas Sarkozy probably supported this point. This player knows what he stands for. This extension also alludes to what France means internationally: a modern, open and attractive France. Finally, we must also understand his extension to PSG as part of Paris 2024. I can’t imagine not being associated with the Olympics, given the precedent with Michel Platini in Albertville 1992.

Michel Platini said precisely: “Jospin likes sports, Chirac, athletes”. And Emmanuel Macron, where is he?
Like Chirac, Macron has a direct relationship with athletes and like Sarkozy he really loves the sport. However, he is much closer to the French football team than the former president was. It must be said that he is the only President who is part of a winning generation, he does not have the culture of defeat of the years 58-72. Emmanuel Macron also understood all the political weight this entailed for them nation branding France. You can’t be president without knowing the economics of sport. Emmanuel Macron is like his generation: he knows exactly what has become of football, while other politicians don’t always understand it. He is an ardent supporter of OM, he doesn’t hesitate to stage it Behind the scenes of a victorythe documentary about his 2017 campaign. He knows what the support of OM brings him: a popular dimension and the symbolism of a city repelling the extreme right.

By saying that Mbappé is a model of assimilation, Jordan Bardella said it all

In The republic of football, your latest book, which you co-wrote with journalist Clément Pernia, Emmanuel Macron and Nicolas Sarkozy, together with François Hollande, form what you call the “football fan trio”. What is it ?
The term amateur gets a double meaning here. On the one hand, they’ve never really played football at a good level, but at the same time, these three are interested. They are therefore more connoisseurs than actors. The only one who really made it in his youth was Emmanuel Macron. Nicolas Sarkozy was later. All three, unlike Jacques Chirac, who followed sporting events without understanding, they know what it means. They are the best example of the “football mission” of politics. In the general elections we see that many candidates position themselves on everything, including football. This morning on France Info, Jordan Bardella said Mbappé was a model of assimilation and said nothing. Like others, he is trying to exploit football’s visibility in order to regain it. I will go even further. Political commentators today behave like sports commentators and are more focused on staging, with a culture of instant and constant commenting. The terms used to talk about current cases are often taken from football vocabulary. It’s quite a flashy mix of genres.

What relationship have past presidents had with football?
Charles De Gaulle practiced this sport in the preparatory class, but did not go further. The passion of Nicolas Sarkozy or Emmanuel Macron for football corresponds to an evolution. Football is associated with social class, it is the sport of the common people. It is perceived as less noble than other sports such as rugby. This sociological dimension is added to an economic dimension. The Presidents of the Fifth Republic’s relationship with football is inseparable from its growth as a booming industry. Up until the 80’s, this sport didn’t have much of a presence on television and could therefore be ignored by a president. The year 1998 marked a turning point: with France’s victory at the World Cup, football was perceived differently and became very popular in the media. No president can ignore football anymore.

If the presidents all start showing their closeness to the world of football politically, then what’s the point?
Football is a medium of communication and a means of becoming president, a means of showing that politics is close to the people. The best television viewers correspond to football matches and this is the most practiced sport in France, the one with the greatest media coverage. You can no longer be President without knowing football or being informed on the subject.

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