Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • In pictures: Debris and devastation at Air Algérie Flight AH5017 crash scene

    Read more

  • Kerry heads to Paris for new round of Gaza peace talks

    Read more

  • ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Paris bans new Gaza protest scheduled for Saturday

    Read more

  • Tour de France fans bring the ambience to the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

France

Cantona’s ‘presidential bid’ a social housing publicity stunt

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2012-01-10

If media reports were to be believed on Tuesday, football legend Eric Cantona was going to be the celebrity spanner in the 2012 French presidential election works. But his bid is more a call for social housing to be a core issue in the campaign.

Football legend-turned-actor Eric Cantona has achieved a PR coup by asking mayors around the country to support an apparent bid to enter the French presidential fight.

His mission is to put social housing back into the debate and generate support for the Fondation Abbe-Pierre, a charity supporting “social housing for the underprivileged”.

Media reports on Tuesday suggested that Cantona was seeking the legally required 500 mayors’ signatures so that he could present himself as a candidate in April and May’s presidential vote.

But there was never any real question of “King Eric”, as he is known by his army of fans at Manchester United, being a serious contender to become president of the French Republic.

In his letter to the country’s mayors, Cantona said he wants their signatures because he is “a concerned citizen of our time. I want to offer an opportunity to young people, whose choices are too limited, too unjust, too brutal and systematic.

“This commitment demands that I speak up, more seriously than usual, with a keen sense of my responsibility as a citizen at a time when our country is faced with difficult choices and is determining its future.”

“Getting 500 signatures will allow me to carry my simple and clear message – one of truth but also of respect.”

‘Concrete political commitments’

The message, sent on Monday and titled “Eric Cantona, concerned citizen” pointed readers towards his apparent campaign site www.ericcantona.fr – which was “under construction” until late on Monday.

By Tuesday morning the web address was redirecting readers to www.mobilisationlogement2012.com (General Mobilisation for Housing) which is collecting signatures in support of the Fondation Abbe-Pierre.

The charity estimates that the lives of some 10 million people in France are blighted by inadequate and unaffordable housing.

Every year the Fondation Abbe-Pierre presents its report on the French housing situation on February 1 at a convention in Paris.

“All the presidential candidates are invited to attend,” Cantona told left-leaning daily Liberation on Tuesday. “It will be an opportunity for them to make concrete political commitments [towards easing the country’s housing situation.]”

Cantona, who played for Manchester United from 1992 to 1997, is no stranger to highly publicised rallying cries for political action.

In December 2010 he called on French citizens to withdraw all their money from their bank accounts in order to bring the financial system to its knees - a call that was largely ignored but nevertheless generated massive publicity.

Patrick Doutreligne of the Fondation Abbe-Pierre Foundation told AFP on Monday that the footballer did not actually expect or want to be the next president of France.

"He will indeed seek 500 signatures, not for the election but to make sure that housing is a priority. You need a spur like Cantona to give housing the place it deserves in this campaign."

Date created : 2012-01-10

  • FRANCE

    French footballer Cantona 'to run for presidency'

    Read more

  • BANKING

    Cantona’s ‘clumsy’ cash call highlights real issues in banking

    Read more

  • FIFA WORLD CUP 2010

    France’s Eric Cantona to support England at World Cup

    Read more

COMMENT(S)