Emmanuel Macron talks about sports on RMC

EXCLUDED RMC SPORT – During his trip to Clichy-sous-Bois to announce the opening of the Pass’Sport to scholarship students and to inaugurate a dojo for the 2024 Olympics, Emmanuel Macron spoke about his sports policy and mentioned he raised the issue of violence in and around stadiums. The head of state also gave his opinion on a possible takeover of Zinedine Zidane at PSG.

Emmanuel Macron went to Clichy-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis) this Wednesday, June 8, to announce the extension of the Pass’Sport for scholarship students. About 800,000 extra young people are now eligible for this compensation of 50 euros for obtaining a sports license. On the occasion of this trip, organized four days before the first round of the parliamentary elections, the President of the Republic also inaugurated a “solidarity dojo”, which is part of the development plan for 5,000 local sports facilities announced last October with a view to the 2024 Olympics. He then answered questions from RMC Sport.

RMC Sport: Was it important to be here, in Clichy-sous-Bois, to present this Pass’Sport with the new features for scholarship holders?

Emmanuel Macron: It was important, together with the Minister of Sport, to be here in Clichy, a city committed to sport and to important disciplines, judo and breakdance. Judo is the federation that has also offered us many projects. We are here to take stock and develop the Pass’Sport. We made it over a year ago. It has made it possible to support a million families and therefore young people in accessing sport. Until now, we assisted young people under the age of 18, young people from modest families. It is the families who have access to the school allowance, to the disability allowance or to our main resources that are means-tested. There we guide people up to the age of 30. This system has taken off very well, we have supported a million of them.

But we can do more. We have affected approximately 5.5 million people with this policy. Judo is a very good example: at the age of 18 it falls out. Why? Stepping out of these devices often leaves students with a lot of worries and often few resources to fund a license or entry into a sport. That is why we have decided not only to continue with the Pass’Sport, but to complete it for fellows over 18 years of age and also for other low-income students. That is why we are going to open the Pass’Sport to 800,000 young people who study today, so that they can access a license or equipment, things that have a price and that are a brake today.

People complain that the Pass’Sport is not accessible to 18-25 year olds without a scholarship…

We can always do better. But it’s public money, there has to be some logic in it. We can afford people who have the means, who have parents to accompany them or who have a job. In the Republic, not everything can be free, because there is someone who pays at the end. But we assume that we have a nationwide solidarity for the students who are least fortunate, because we believe it is good for them and good for the nation. Why? Sport is considered good for preparing future champions, Olympic medalists, future Teddy Riners and others. It is also considered good for learning. That is why we want to introduce compulsory sports in primary schools for half an hour from next school year. We’re going to study for two more hours.

We also believe that sport is the best prevention policy. We talk a lot about our health system, and rightly so, but we always look at the moment when we are sick. We saw it during the Covid period. Among the well-known comorbidities that have been much talked about, obesity is a terrible factor. We measured it before and after the Covid, for our young people and our teenagers it is terrible. It is imperative that families, National Education, all of us, have this message about sports practices for the youngest, to say that it is very important to exercise. Because that also keeps you healthy, today and tomorrow.

What else are you planning for the practice of sports in France?

We are here to open a new dojo. In working-class neighbourhoods, as in the countryside, the practice of a sport had a brake: there was a lack of infrastructure. We’re going to open 5,000 fields by the 2024 Olympics: dojos, break dance halls, handball courts, soccer fields, three-on-three basketball courts, swimming pools too. It is abnormal that there are so few facilities or swimming pools in Marseille for learning to swim. Whether it concerns permanent or sometimes temporary infrastructures, such as these that last three to four years. We are opening this dojo, we are making good progress and we will fulfill our promise to 5,000 courts, especially 1,000 dojos.

Even during the holidays, the sport continues. We continue with the devices that have been put in the Covid period. There will be next summer and those that follow what we had set up, that is, the summer quarters, to support young people who can’t go on vacation. And the learning colos and all learning holiday packages, to allow young people from modest families to leave, to play sports, to be helped with homework, to discover the sea and other French landscapes. A million young people are leaving thanks to our colonies. This system made it possible to support one million young people last year, and that will be the case this summer.

You spoke to Kylian Mbappe, as he said. Today we talk a lot about Zinedine Zidane. Have you spoken to him? Would it be important for France’s influence to see Zinedine Zidane in Paris Saint-Germain?

I was able to speak to Kylian Mbappe, but he makes his choice in conscience. He has shown it, he is very mature, he is building his career and his commitment with a great sense of responsibility. I have not spoken to Zinedine Zidane, but I have enormous admiration for him, the player, the coach. We really want to have an athlete and coach of this talent in the French Championship who has been able to bring back the three major cups we so long for for our clubs. I wish the influence of the French Championship and for France that he come back and that he come and train a big French club, it would be great. My role is to say that France is a great sports and football country, that there is a large audience that loves this sport. It is important to us that the best we have trained, who sometimes shone internationally, can come back.

Vincent Labrune, president of the Professional Football League, said: “We must be the leaders of modern and innovative football and by no means the leaders of chaos and war in the stadiums”. The stadiums have been the scene of a lot of violence lately. For example, Dimitri Payet, OM player, was the victim of numerous bottle throws. There was also the Stade de France. What needs to be done to stop all this violence?

I salute the commitment of President Labrune and President Le Graƫt and the sense of responsibility of many athletes. Dmitric [Payet], as you mentioned, himself had very strong and very responsible comments when he was attacked on the lawn. I think transparency is very important. We must and we can all improve. The Minister of Sports, the Minister of the Interior and the Prime Minister will do this. Reports will be made, we will also work with the federation, UEFA, to draw all the consequences of what we have just experienced.

More generally, this is the lesson I want to draw from everything we’ve been through in recent and past years: sport is a wonderful discipline that is good for body and mind. It is necessary to expel rudeness and violence from the sport. It is of course necessary to prepare so that there is no place for violence outside the stadium and in the stadium at major events. You have to be unmanageable in professional or amateur sports to say that hate speech, racism and homophobia have no place in stadiums. No. There is a very important work with the federations to be unruly, to be strict and to prevent with the clubs and the supporters, to train the supporters, to change the mentality.

And it is educational work. From an early age, at school, sports clubs, federations, it must be said that if you like a sport, you like the discipline that goes with it. If we yell, be violent, insult, make racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic comments, we don’t like sports. This is not the value of sports. The value of sport is to respect a referee, to respect his opponent, to know how to play with his teammates in a collective sport, to have group disciplines even in individual disciplines such as judo. That’s sport, nothing else. Sometimes we lost it by thinking that rites or customs could be followed and that we had tolerated. No. Anyone who participates in sport should help us stop tolerating it. We are unruly, we are all responsible and we will raise differently.

What did you think of the Olympique de Marseille season?

You know my support, my friendship… Bravo for this season, we know the difficulties of the championship we had to endure. I think it held up well. I sincerely hope that the next transfer window prepares well. Who knows, you may have mentioned great coaches, their heart is in Marseille too… We have the right to dream!

Julien Absalon with Pierrick Taisne