Cantona election run a hoax

2012-01-10 15:53
Erica Cantona (AP)
Paris - Eric Cantona for president? For several tantalising hours, the former Manchester United striker fooled French voters into thinking he would run for the country's top job before admitting that what he really wants is better housing for the needy.

The stunt exhibited his trademark unorthodoxy and media savvy, and got France's political class talking, briefly, about public housing.

But the method raised some eyebrows.

French newspaper Liberation released a letter on its website late on Monday suggesting Cantona wanted to run for president. It was an appeal to mayors around France for 500 signatures of support "in the framework of the political debate that the country is involved in."

France holds presidential elections in April and May, and to get on the ballot, candidates must first gather signatures of 500 mayors.

For hours, French airwaves filled with debate by commentators and fans over a potential candidacy for the 45-year-old Cantona, considered one of United's greatest ever players.

Then early on Tuesday, the same newspaper published an interview in which he explained that what he wants is for the real presidential candidates to support the Fondation Abbe Pierre, a respected foundation working to house the poor.

The foundation's director said the Cantona "campaign" was an intentional ruse aimed at capturing public attention.

"We told ourselves we needed an extra kick" for a petition urging presidential candidates to make housing a campaign priority, Patrick Doutreligne explained. The petition calls on the next president to regulate rent and property prices, build more public housing and other measures.

So, Doutreligne said, the foundation asked Cantona, a sometime actor who played himself in Ken Loach's 2009 film "Looking for Eric," to pretend to be a presidential candidate for a limited time, and then to announce that he was seeking support for better housing.

"He will not be a candidate," Doutreligne told The Associated Press.

In Tuesday's Liberation interview, Cantona criticised mayors for preferring to pay fines than to build the required amount of public housing in their towns and cities.

Cantona, who once called on people to empty their bank accounts in protest at the global financial crisis, called for a return to "humanism."

"A hospital doesn't have to be profitable. We don't live inside a company," he was quoted as saying.

Some French politicians criticised the stunt, though conceded that better public housing is needed.

Phone messages left for Cantona on Monday and Tuesday were not returned.

The former France international gained notoriety throughout his career for his nontraditional football demeanor, outspoken comments and sometimes wild antics.

Read more on:    eric cantona


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


30 of the world's greatest golfers will be heading to the Gary Player Country Club for this year's Nedbank Golf Challenge - now in its 35th year. For all the latest news, player profiles, hole-by-hole descriptions and past winners, be sure to check out Sport24's dedicated section.

Latest blogs

Who was the best summer signing in the EPL?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.