France’s forward Kylian Mbappe drives the ball during the UEFA Nations League – League A Group 1 football match between France and Croatia at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris on June 13, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
France international Kylian Mbappe on Sunday accused the president of the French Football Federation (FFF) of ignoring racist abuse after his penalty miss at Euro 2020.
The Paris Saint-Germain star’s decisive spot-kick against Switzerland was saved in the last-16 shootout, resulting in the world champions exiting the tournament.
The 23-year-old was vilified on social media by furious fans, and even considered quitting the national team as a result.
In an interview with a Sunday newspaper, FFF president Noel Le Graet spoke of the lack of support Mbappe had felt after the Euro elimination, but failed to mention the racist abuse he had received, to the annoyance of the France striker.
Le Graet said “he (Mbappe) considered that the federation had not defended him after his missed penalty and the criticism on social media networks”.
“We saw each other for five minutes in my office,” continued Le Graet, adding the striker “no longer wanted to play in the French team – which he obviously did not think”.
On Sunday, Mbappe responded on Twitter, regretting that Le Graet had not taken into account the “racism” of which had been a victim.
“Yes finally I explained to him (Le Graet) above all that it was in relation to racism, and NOT to the penalty,” Mbappe said.
“But he considered that there had been no racism.”
Le Graet later told French radio there was “no problem” between himself and Mbappe.
“I agree with him. I understood everything and there is no problem with Kylian. I have always had a deep attachment to him.”
Le Graet had spoken last year about how the striker had “taken a knock” after the penalty miss.
“He came to the federation. He had taken a bit of a knock. The elimination had affected him, especially the articles and the comments,” Le Graet told AFP.
“My role was to show him affection, to tell him that the federation was counting on him to bounce back. It’s not a defeat that can change a career.”
As for the racist insults, “maybe it affected him”, continued Le Graet, “but it was settled very, very quickly. The proof: he is competitive at a very, very high level.”
– FIFA World Cup plan to protect players –
Le Graet had already come under fire last September after declaring that racism in football “does not exist or hardly exists”.
A few months before the Paris prosecutor’s office announced it was investigating racist messages toward certain French international players after the Euros.
On Saturday, FIFA published a report pointing to the increase in the number of insults against footballers on social media.
According to this study, 38 percent of them were racist in nature.
FIFA said with the World Cup in Qatar just five months away, they will work with players union FIFPRO to implement a plan on how to protect players from abuse on social media.
This will involve scanning recognised hate speech terms published to identified social media accounts, and once detected, prevent that comment from being seen by the recipient and their followers.