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WORLD CUP

‘Merci, you did it’: Macron revels in France’s World Cup triumph

French president Emmanuel Macron was jubilant after Les Bleus triumphed in the World Cup final over Croatia on Sunday night. He are some pics of the president enjoying the celebrations.

'Merci, you did it': Macron revels in France's World Cup triumph
Photo: ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/POOL

President Emmanuel Macron, whose enthusiasm soared with each goal as France marched toward World Cup victory on Sunday, expressed his thanks to the young team on Twitter after congratulating the players on the pitch in Moscow.

“MERCI” Macron wrote in a one-word tweet after the match, which gave France its second World Cup victory and sparked euphoric street parties across the country.

A picture emerged of Macron punching the air in the VIP section of the Moscow stadium and quickly went viral on social media.

 

 

(President Emmanuel Macron hugs French coach Didier Deschamps. AFP)

(Macron gives a hug to young French star Kylian Mbappé. AFP)

Macron was on the pitch to greet and hug the French players and also went into the dressing room after the game to celebrate with the players and commend them on their success of winning France's second World Cup.

Macron was captured giving a speech to the victorious players during which he said: “I told you and the coach to bring back the second star. You did it ! You made us dream, you played wonderful football, you made 60 million French people and kids everywhere dream and you'll see tomorrow when you go back home. I wanted to tell you the children, a big thank you to you, to the whole team. “

Macron will welcome the players at the Elysée Palace on Monday evening.

 

 

 

The French president's popularity ratings have been falling – a recent Odoxa poll showed that 75% of the French feel that he is removed from the people.

In 1998, the-then president Jacques Chirac's popularity ratings surged after France won, but as Frédéric Dabi, head of Ifop polling agency suggests, this was probably a one-off. 
 
“1998 was an exception,” he told L'Express. “Jacques Chirac was in a coalition government at the time… and he was therefore exempt from any criticism regarding social or economic issues.”
 
According to Dabi, France's Euro championship win in 2000 and its defeat in the 2006 World Cup final had no impact on the French presidents at the time, although Macron – who is sometimes dismissively called the 'president of the rich' – may reap some short-term benefits.
 
“Football can bring him a little closer to the French: it is a sport which can eliminate some social differences,” Dabi said. 

 

 

 

 

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FOOTBALL

France plans to keep growing women’s game after World Cup disappointment

France faces the challenge of continuing to develop women's football after the bitter disappointment of elimination from the World Cup by the United States.

France plans to keep growing women's game after World Cup disappointment
France players after the defeat against USA. Photo: AFP

“Back to Earth” was how sports daily L'Equipe put it after the host nation lost 2-1 to the holders in a quarter-final played out before a feverish crowd in Paris.

L'Equipe talked of “the disappointment of a shattered adventure” because coach Corinne Diacre's team had dreamt of emulating the men, World Cup winners in Russia last year and also winners as hosts in 1998.

The team had been desperate to make it to Lyon, where the semi-finals and final will be played and where seven of those who featured for France on Friday play their club football for Europe's top side.

Instead, France find themselves out of a fifth straight major tournament in the quarter-finals. To rub salt into the wounds, Friday's defeat had the knock-on effect of denying them a place at next year's Olympics.

Diacre had been set the objective of reaching the final, which always looked a daunting challenge once the draw raised the likelihood of an early meeting with the USA.

Amid the dejection on Friday, Diacre stated her wish to continue, and on Saturday French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel Le Graet confirmed she would stay.

“She will be in charge until the end of her contract, if not longer,” Le Graet told AFP.

That means until Euro 2021 in England at least, and the aim in France is to keep developing the women's game to give them a chance of one day going all the way.

The FFF hope the number of registered female players will reach 200,000 next year, an increase of almost 10 percent from present figures, but far from the two million registered male players.

They have also promised to invest 15 million euros into a post-World Cup “legacy” fund.

The interest in the women's game is there, as shown by television audiences during the World Cup, with 11.8 million watching the USA game on terrestrial TV.

However, translating that to an increased following in the women's domestic league will be a bigger challenge.

France games have drawn sell-out crowds at the World Cup, but in general attendances in domestic competition are modest at best, even if almost 26,000 saw powerhouses Lyon beat closest rivals Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year.

“We cannot go from so much enthusiasm now to league matches on poor pitches with only 120 fans,” said Le Graet. “We all need to make an effort and we will.”

Matches are televised, but like elsewhere income remains light years from rights deals in the men's game — a new sponsorship contract for the 12-club top flight with chemicals company Arkema is worth one million euros per season for three years.

Average salaries are reportedly around 3,500 euros per month, although stars like Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard are believed to earn almost 10 times that at Lyon, who have won the Champions League in the last four years. Again, those sums are dwarfed by the wages often on offer to the men.

“We need to keep putting money in, keep professionalising, because other countries are doing it and maybe that's why they are ahead of us,” warned Lyon and France forward Eugenie Le Sommer.

“We have a good league but unfortunately not every team is professional.

“There are countries who are ahead of us and we must catch up. Even Spain are putting lots of money in and we need to make sure we are not left behind.”

READ ALSO: France coach laments 'failure' as hosts knocked out of World Cup

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