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France's iconic rooster banned from Euro 2016

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France's iconic rooster banned from Euro 2016
Photo: AFP
16:07 CEST+02:00
Balthazar the rooster, much loved in France for his emblematic appearances at national sporting events, has been banned from the upcoming Euro 2016 football championships, but owner Clement Tomaszewski says he will ignore the ban.

"You will not be allowed to enter the stadiums during UEFA Euro-2016 with your cockerel Balthazar," European football's governing body wrote in a letter to Tomaszewski.

"As nice as it is, the presence of your cockerel would put you in an awkward position vis-a-vis the security teams," explained the official letter, read out to AFP by a very annoyed tone by Tomaszewski on Thursday.

He is warned that he will be thrown out if he is found breaching the stadium ban on live animals.

"I am 68-years-old, this is my sixth and last Euros," he said.

Tomaszewski and his unusual pet gained worldwide attention at the 1998 World Cup in France, becoming a kind of mascot for the French team.

The Gallic rooster, as embodied by Balthazar, has become an unofficial national symbol for France and a version can be seen on the jerseys of the French football team.

"I am very upset," said Tomaszewski, recalling that he was a guest of honour at the recent inauguration of the FIFA museum in Zurich.

There was even a portrait of him and Balthazar among an exhibition of 24 footballing personalities, he said proudly.

He insisted that he wouldn't go to a match without his rooster, starting with the tournament's opening  game, France v Romania, on June 10th in Paris.

"Balthazar will be there during all the Euro matches. If he isn't allowed in then I won't go in either," insisted Tomaszewski, who has tickets for all the matches France may play in right up to the final.

The Algerian-born Frenchman, nicknamed Clement d'Antibes after the southeastern coastal town where he lived, and his mascot have already been kicked out of some stadiums abroad, as well as from hotels where Balthazar's habit of crowing earlier than a lot of alarm clocks went off is not always appreciated.

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