International

Buffon gesture hailed by French president

2016-09-06 11:43
Gianluigi Buffon (AFP)

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 Thursday.

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.

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