‘Clouds are gathering’ over France’s national squad, raising fears that the world champions are unravelling months before the World Cup in Qatar.
On a day when Kylian Mbappe challenged image rights restrictions, Paul Pogba opened up about being held at gunpoint, and Tottenham goalie Hugo Lloris was forced to withdraw due to injury, daily French newspaper L’Equipe centred their front page on Tuesday.
‘With two months to go before the start of the World Cup, the clouds are gathering over the FFF’, read L’Equipe’s cover.
‘With Noel le Graet, an increasingly controversial president, the Pogba affair, the revision of the image rights agreement under pressure from the players and a string of injuries, the French team is going through a period of turbulence.’
Turbulence looks to be putting it mildly.
Mbappe reportedly declined to take part in a national team photograph on Monday due to a long-running dispute over image rights.
The news of his alleged refusal broke in the middle of the afternoon, and by early evening, the FFF had responded, desperate to prevent any public conflict with their star striker.
The FFF said that they will investigate the problem around players’ image rights, and Mbappe will participate in a media session on Tuesday as part of an agreement to amend the laws, according to RMC Sport.
Their statement read: ‘Following conclusive discussions with the French team’s executives, the president, the coach and a marketing manager, the FFF has undertaken to revise, as soon as possible, the agreement on image rights that binds it to its national team players.’
It continued: ‘The FFF is looking forward to working on the outlines of a new agreement that will enable it to protect its interests while taking into consideration the legitimate concerns and convictions unanimously expressed by the players.’
Back in March this was an issue rumbling on when Mbappe led a boycott among the French team of certain sponsors back, with concerns over betting companies and fast food brands, as reported by Get French Football News.
But the Mbappe controversy was only one thread in a day filled with controversies and distractions for the FFF.
Didier Deschamps had to cope with the newest Paul Pogba police statement, in which he claimed he agreed to pay two armed men after being held at gunpoint during an alleged extortion attempt.
Describing what was going through his head when he came face-to-face with the armed men, Pogba told police, via Le Monde: ‘I was scared. The two guys pointed their weapons at me. So, having been held up like that, under threat, I told them that I was going to pay.’
Pogba’s ordeal came to light last month when his brother Mathias threatened to share ‘explosive’ revelations about the former Manchester United star to the public.
Pogba is currently sidelined through injury and it remains unclear if he will be able to play any role in the World Cup, another damning development ahead of their World Cup defence.
Injuries are a great concern and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris having to withdraw on Monday due to a thigh issue did little to ease the unease in the French media around the team.