Ligue 1 - Cantona presidency bid 'a PR stunt'

Tue, 10 Jan 10:50:00 2012

Former Manchester United star Eric Cantona's apparent desire to run in this year's presidential election in France was a publicity stunt to raise awareness of the plight of the poor in France.

Eric Cantona - 0

The former United striker placed an advert in newspaper Liberation asking for signatures from the 500 elected officials he would need to start a bid.

Cantona claimed he had sent a letter to French mayors describing himself as an "engaged citizen" and asking for their support, the left-leaning newspaper said.

But the newspaper's deputy editor Paul Quinio told a French TV channel that it was all a move to publicise the French housing crisis, which affects 10 million people in the country.

"He isn't looking for signatures to be a candidate for the presidency, but to pass on the message of the Abbé Pierre foundation in support of better housing policy, and to make housing, which is a priority for French people, a priority for the presidential candidates," said Quinio.

Cantona's letter had referred to the serious social problems facing France.

"This engagement obliges me to speak, more earnestly than usual, but also with a keen sense of my responsibility, at a time when our country faces difficult choices which will be decisive for its future," said the letter, quoted in Liberation.

In his letter, Cantona also denounced the limited opportunities for young people in France and social injustices which were "too numerous, too violent, too systematic", the newspaper said.

It is not the first time Cantona, who earned large sums as a footballer from sponsorship by brands like L'Oreal and Nike, has tried to draw public attention to social inequality.

In December 2010, he called on French savers to stage a nationwide bank run by withdrawing their money from financial institutions because of their role in triggering the global financial crisis.

Panned by the media as a flop, almost no one in France heeded the much-hyped call.

Cantona eyes French presidency

Reuters

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