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Macron tells les bleues ‘play as a team’ ahead of World Cup kick off in France

French president Emmanuel Macron spent Tuesday focused on football and the values of team-work in the sport.

Macron tells les bleues 'play as a team' ahead of World Cup kick off in France
Emmanuel Macron with France women's coach Corinne Diacre. Photo: AFP

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.

READ ALSO Five things to know about the Women's World Cup in France


Emmanuel Macron with the French women's football team at Clairefontaine. Photo: AFP

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,” he 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. 


The winning French men's team with their Legion d'Honneur medals. Photo: AFP

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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French government: All athletes must be vaccinated to compete in France

All athletes and sports professionals who wish to compete in France will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19, government sources told AFP on Monday.

Unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic
Unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic. Photo: Oscar del Polzo/AFP

The French parliament has just given the go-ahead for the health pass to be converted into a vaccine pass, which means that anyone wishing to enter leisure and cultural venues – including sports grounds and stadiums – will have to be vaccinated.

This goes for the crowd, but also professional sports players and staff. The government has indicated that exemptions will not be made athletes who are based outside France.

The ministry said a new vaccine pass, “applies to everyone, to volunteers and to elite sportspeople, including those coming from abroad, until further notice.”

READ ALSO What changes when France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass

Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said last week that certain events like the French Open could have a special exemption, when asked whether Novak Djokovic could play in the tournament, but this appears now to not be the case.

Questions had been asked about whether the unvaccinated Djokivic – recently deported from Australia – would be able to play in the French Open in May, but the ruling would affect all visiting sports professionals, including rugby teams from England, Ireland and Italy who are due to play in France during the Six Nations tournament in February and March.

Until now a health pass has been sufficient to enter sports grounds, which means unvaccinated players and fans were able to use a negative Covid test.

However once the vaccine pass enters into effect – scheduled to be later this week – only proof of vaccination will be affected.

French domestic sports teams were given the choice of either making sure that all their players and staff were fully vaccinated or playing behind closed doors.

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