French football hero Zinedine Zidane has said voters should do anything they can to stop Marine Le Pen winning the presidency.
Referring to Ms Le Pen’s far-right party, the Real Madrid coach says he is “far from all these ideas, from this National Front. So we need to do everything to avoid this”.
Zidane, who was born in Marseille and comes from Algerian descent, took a similar stance when Jean-Marie Le Pen – Ms Le Pen’s father – made it to the second round of the 2002 presidential election.
A former World Cup and European Championship winner, Zidane remains highly popular in France. He said the message “is the same, the one from 2002”.
Le Pen faces centrist Emmanuel Macron in the presidential run-off on May 7. Her years-long efforts to detoxify her far-right party’s image have suffered a new setback as the leader of the National Front on Friday because of an uproar over past remarks allegedly questioning the Nazi gas chambers.
She also prompted an outcry earlier this month by denying that the French state was responsible for the round-up of Jews in the Second World War, in a reference to the Vel d’Hiv, the Paris stadium where thousands of Jews were transferred before being sent to Nazi death camps.