Rome - French president Francois Hollande has sent a message of gratitude to
the charismatic captain of Italy's football team, who hushed fans
booing the visitors' national anthem ahead of their friendly match last
The Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi revealed the matter in his
weekly letter to the nation on Monday, saying Hollande had spoken to him
on the sidelines of the current G20 meeting in China.
"At today's (Monday) meeting Francois Hollande thanked me for Gigi
Buffon's gesture of goodwill in silencing the whistling during 'La
Marseillaise' and instead galvanising fans at the Bari stadium to
applaud," Renzi wrote.
"Sportspeople can make a big impact in transmitting educative
messages: the team captain Buffon proved this. I believe the whole of
Italy can be proud of him," Renzi added.
Ahead of the friendly international between the two nations at the
Saint Nicolas stadium in Bari the opening bars of the French national
anthem were booed.
But the veteran goalkeeper Buffon, who commands great respect in
Italy for his powerful leadership of the national team, began instead to
applaud 'La Marseillaise' and was very quickly followed by the rest of
the Italy team before the gesture also swept through the tribunes.
France went on to win the match 3-1.