Manchester United football legend launches shock bid for France's top job... but then reveals it's a publicity stunt to promote work of homeless charity
Manchester United legend Eric Cantona launched a stunning bid for the French presidency -- but then revealed his plan was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
Future President and First lady? Eric Cantona said he wanted a shot at the French Presidency and wrote a letter to French mayors pledging to stand up for 'the millions of families who have been forgotten' and condemned the lack of opportunities for young people.' File pic/Getty Images
The Old Trafford favourite, who also enjoyed a spell with Leeds United, said he had written to French mayors outlining his credentials and asking for their support.
He would have needed to secure the backing of 500 elected officials by the end of February.
In his letter he pledged to stand up for 'the millions of families who have been forgotten' and condemned the lack of opportunities for young people.'
For the homeless But yesterday morning he revealed his 'bid' was in fact a stunt to promote the work of a homeless charity. His website -- ericantona.fr -- was re-routed directly to a charity's petition to improve housing for the poorest people in France.
Homeless campaigners the Abbe-Pierre Foundation said the stunt had already brought them another 1,00,000 signatures for their cause.
Spokesman Patrick Doutreligne said, "We needed a high profile figure like Eric Cantona to bring attention to our campaign.
"The sudden show of public support shows that housing an homelessness in a nationwide problem that merits more attention in the presidential campaign."
French newspapers said that the 45-year-old would have 'stood no chance at all' of ever winning a nomination without the backing of a political party.
The footballer turned actor was exposed to nationwide ridicule the last time he attempted to support a cause in 2010 by calling on French citizens to bring down the banks by withdrawing all their money.
It later emerged that he had recently been paid �30,000 (Rs 24 lakh) by a bank for a series of television adverts.
Against injustice In his now fake letter to mayors, he had said, "This engagement obliged me to speak, more earnestly than usual, but also with a keen sense of my responsibility, at a time when our country faces difficult choices which will be decisive for its future."
The letter showed his strong feelings towards the social injustices experienced by the French nation, and by young people in general.
From footballer to politician Late in 2010, Cantona entered the political and economic fray, urging compatriots to withdraw cash en masse as a way to bring banking to its knees -- although it emerged that his actress wife had appeared in a TV bank advert. French and European politicians and bankers condemned Cantona as irresponsible, naive and misguided, and his call to action was not taken up. One of Cantona's most-famous moments was when he launched a flying kung-fu style kick and several punches at a fan as he was sent off during a 1995 match. After the match, he famously told journalists: "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea."