‘The clubs need to play the game’ – Emmanuel Macron applying pressure on Real Madrid to facilitate Kylian Mbappé Olympics participation

Emmanuel Macron has called on clubs to “play the game” regarding their stances of freeing players to participate in this summer’s Olympic Games, which will be held in Paris. 

The competition, which comes just a fortnight after the conclusion of EURO 2024, does not fall within the FIFA calendar, meaning that the clubs are under no obligation to release their players, as is the case in a normal international break. With the Olympics coinciding with the end of pre-season and the return of domestic leagues, early indications are that clubs, especially clubs abroad, will not allow their players to compete. 

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Even in France, where there is more social and political pressure to release French players in particular, there has been pushback, notably from Stade Rennais, who have said that they don’t want to release “three or four” players for the Games. In Spain, Real Madrid have made a firm stance, stating that they will not release their players.

Speaking during the recent international break, Aurélien Tchouaméni stated a desire to play in the Olympics but said that he would not confront his club, Real Madrid, on the issue. Eduardo Camavinga is in the same boat and so too is Kylian Mbappé, potentially.

The France captain told his club, Paris Saint-Germain, that he would be leaving the club upon the expiry of his contract at the end of the season. The Bernabeu is his touted destination, however, whilst Mbappé has previously stated that it is a “dream” to play in the Olympics in his home city, his chances of doing so are decreasing. 

Within this context, President Macron is applying pressure on clubs to release their players. “I have trust in French and European clubs if you know what I mean (smiles) [that they will release their players. There is the Euros too – that’s the problem,” he began in an interview with RMC Sport

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“I think clubs need to play the game so that we have a big show. It is one of my fears. Real Madrid too? Exactly. When I was speaking about European clubs, I was speaking about them. The players need to take it into account in their preparations and their training sessions too because we have the Euros and I hope we’ll be playing until 14th July; I hope and I think we will. I haven’t spoken about it with Mbappé but I hope that his club will let him [participate in the Olympics],” added the French President. 

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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