French president Emmanuel Macron spent Tuesday focused on football and the values of team-work in the sport.
Macron travelled to the national training centre at Clairefontaine to have lunch with the French women’s team, who kick off their World Cup campaign on Friday.
He then returned to Paris where he welcomed first FIFA president Gianni Infantino and then presented the French men’s team with Legion d’Honneur medals.
In the evening, Macron was due to attend a cocktail reception ahead of the FIFA congress at the Grand Palais in Paris.
In Clairefontaine, in the Paris suburbs, Macron urged the women to “play as a team” and promised them that “we are at their side, to motivate them, even if I sense that you do not need help.”
Macron also criticised planned changes to the Champions League which would guarantee places to the biggest clubs.
“We must defend our model, our clubs,” said. “I do not think it is a good idea to sacrifice the viability of our model for the benefit of a few,” he said.
Back at the to the Elysee Palace, Macron met Infantino, who signed an agreement to support football development projects in Africa, particularly for girls.
Macron then met the French players and staff who won the men’s World Cup last July and again talked about playing as a team.
“You have made an entire country proud because you have won together,” Macron said during a 45-minute speech. “You have combined individual excellence with the irreproachable sense of the collective.”
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