French superstar Kylian Mbappé says he considered quitting the France national team after Euro 2020, citing a lack of support after suffering racist abuse.
Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Mbappé recounts that he spoke to French Football Federation (FFF) President Noël Le Graët about the racist abuse he’d endured following France’s surprising defeat to Switzerland on penalties in the round of 16 phase of the tournament in 2021 – Mbappé missed what turned out to be the decisive penalty.
The Paris Saint-Germain star said he told Le Graët: “I cannot play for people who think I’m a monkey. I’m not gonna play.
“But after, I take the reflection with all the people who play around me and root for me, and I think it was not the good message to give up. Because I think I’m an example for everybody,” Mbappé continued.
“This is the new France … It’s for that that I didn’t give up the national team. Because it is a message to the young generation to say: ‘We are stronger than that.’”
CNN has reached out to Mbappé’s representatives and the FFF for comment.
Mbappé and the FFF have been at loggerheads over the last year around the image rights for France’s national team players.
The disagreement between Mbappé and the federation began back in March when the 23-year-old first boycotted activities with one of the team’s sponsors, according to multiple French media sources.
Three months later, Le Graët told L’Équipe that the agreement on image rights would not change before the World Cup.
However, in September – after Mbappé boycotted sponsorship activities, including a photo shoot, during the French national team’s training camp in Clairefontaine – the FFF announced it would work to revise its agreement with its national team players regarding the use of their images and rights.
Mbappé’s published comments come just over a week before the start of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, in which France enters as the defending champion and one of the favorites to retain its crown.