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VIDEO: French president Macron pulls on boots for charity football game

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has his eye firmly on the goal of elections next year, donned his football boots and marshalled the midfield at a charity match on Thursday.

President Macron plays the ball during a football match as part of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the 'Varietes club de France'.
President Macron plays the ball during a football match as part of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the 'Varietes club de France'. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

After a kiss from his wife Brigitte, the 43-year-old was all smiles as he took to the pitch in Poissy outside Paris alongside former international defender Marcel Desailly and ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Playing central midfield, Macron drew cheers from the crowd with his first touch – and was given plenty of space to turn from overawed opponents who retreated deferentially as he advanced with the ball.

The fan of Marseille was also allowed to take a penalty, scoring an equaliser with a less-than-ferocious shot that the political centrist sent straight down the middle.

Macron, who played football at university and is a keen tennis player, had spent the day visiting construction sites for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“The aim is not simply to get medals, it will be to put sport at the heart of the nation,” he told reporters, announcing €200 million for new sports facilities.

His political party and aides are gearing up for presidential polls next April when the head of state is expected to seek a second term.

A new survey published on Thursday showed him coming top in the first round with 24-28 percent of votes, and then winning the second round run-off.

Analysts say the election remains highly unpredictable, however, with a surge by far-right media pundit Eric Zemmour in recent weeks demonstrating how quickly voter sentiment can shift.

Macron's teammates included former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger.

Macron’s teammates included former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger. Photo: Ian LANGSDON / POOL / AFP.

The charity game featured a side of former players and public personalities, including former France international and Arsenal star Robert Pires, while their opponents were a team of medics who have been on the frontline of efforts to battle Covid-19.

Footage of the match, and Macron’s successful penalty, were shown on rolling news channels.

The money raised from the sale of around 3,000 tickets was destined for a hospital charity which is headed by Brigitte Macron.

Macron is not the only world leader to take to the pitch in a bid to impress fans with his sporting prowess. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has enjoyed kick-arounds on the football pitch, while Russian President Vladimir Putin regularly turns out in an amateur ice hockey league.

The vice-president of the South American state of Suriname, Ronnie Brunswijk, 60, set his sights higher – last month, he had himself selected in attack during a competitive professional game for the club he owns. The club, Inter Moengotapoe, suffered a 6-0 drubbing and has since been thrown out of the CONCACAF League.

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EMMANUEL MACRON

Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

French president Emmanuel Macron will make a live TV broadcast to the nation about the war in Ukraine.

Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

Macron will be on TV on Wednesday at 8pm, the Elysée confirmed earlier on Wednesday.

Macron also tweeted the announcement, saying that his speech will be on the subject of the war in Ukraine.

His office added that the president’s speech “will not touch on other matters” – Macron has only until Friday to confirm whether or not he is running for re-election.

It is widely considered to be extremely unlikely that he would not stand in the April elections, but all candidates have until Friday, March 4th, to make their declaration.

Macron’s team had previously announced a rally in Marseille on Saturday, March 5th, which was expected to be the first official campaign event, but on Tuesday this was cancelled because of the ongoing international crisis.

Macron was at the forefront of international efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and since Russia invaded Ukraine he has remained in close contact with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and has also spoken – at the request of Zelensky – to Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

 
The Local will be following Macron’s speech live from 8pm HERE.
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