Football Legend Zidane Calls on Voters to Avoid Le Pen

MADRID – French football star, and Real Madrid coach, Zinedine Zidane called Friday, April 28, on his countrymen to do their “utmost to avoid” voting far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen into office.

“The message is always the same, it’s that of 2002,” said the Real Madrid manager in a pre-match press conference for the clash with La Liga rivals Valencia.

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“I’m far from all those ideas, of the National Front,” Zidane, whose parents migrated to France from Algeria, said during a news conference before Real Madrid played Valencia on Saturday.

Zidane was referring to the year when the then far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, the current candidate’s father, reached the second round of France’s presidential elections.

That prompted many voters from the left and right to unite behind Jacques Chirac, the conservative rival in that runoff vote, granting him a landslide 82 percent win.

He added that people had to do their “utmost to avoid this. Extremes are never good,” without giving any specific voting indications.

Zidane took a similar stance in 2002, participating in a video against the far-right candidate with several other celebrities like actor Gerard Depardieu and musician Jean-Jacques Goldman.

Jean-Marie Le Pen had then countered that Zidane was being “manipulated by people who are using his fame.”

Several mainstream political figures in France have directly called on voters to back Macron after their candidates failed to reach the runoff. Like Zidane, others have not endorsed him explicitly but urged voters not to back Le Pen.

Macron is a 39-year old socialist politician, senior civil servant, and former investment banker.

Macron took 8.4m votes (23.75%) and Le Pen 7.6m (21.53%) – the highest ever score for the Front National.