Kylian Mbappe has forced the French Football Federation (FFF) into an embarrassing climbdown in the dispute over players’ image rights after French chiefs promised an immediate review of its current agreement. The French star has been leading opposition to how the players and their image rights are used to promote sponsors for several months.
On Monday, reports in the French media claimed Mbappe had boycotted a promotional photoshoot with the national team’s sponsors whilst on international duty amid his ongoing battle with the FFF over the issue. The 23-year-old is the most marketable player in the squad and his absence highlighted how serious the issue had become.
And it appears the Paris Saint-Germain star’s act of brinkmanship has paid off as, within a matter of hours, a statement appeared on the official Twitter of the French national team confirming that it has agreed to review its agreement “as soon as possible”.
A statement read: “The FFF is delighted to work on the outlines of a new agreement which will allow it to maintain its interests all the while taking into consideration the concerns and legitimate convictions unanimously expressed by its players.”
The announcement comes after the FFF held crisis talks with senior players, along with president Noel Le Graët and head coach Didier Deschamps.
FFF chief Le Graet had already held talks to clear the air with Mbappe other disgruntled players while they were on Nations League duty in June. Le Graet had indicated there was “no major problem to deal with”, despite the France players feeling compelled to release a statement through AFP, the French-based press agency, demanding a review before the World Cup.
“I saw Mbappe by himself, then Mbappe at Clairefontaine [the national team headquarters], Mbappe in a group, then all the players,” he said at a news conference at the FFF’s general assembly.
As quoted by RMC, Le Graet later added: “The conclusion remains: no change until the World Cup, perfect equality between all players. Frankly, there is no major problem to deal with. On the contrary. It was done in a very friendly manner with him, first, then the old soldiers of the federation, the players.”
But it seems he wildly underestimated Mbappe’s refusal to let the issue lie down as he stepped up his efforts to get them to reconsider by pulling out of the photoshoot on Monday, which was scheduled for the following day.
With a potential resolution on the horizon, it would go some way to ensuring France head into the World Cup without external issues affecting the team.
Didier Deschamps’ squad will be one of the favourites to retain their trophy having triumphed in 2018 and as one of the world’s most lethal attackers, keeping Mbappe satisfied will be at the top of their list of priorities.
It is unclear what concessions, if any, will be offered by the FFF in their review of the current process. But it will be viewed as a positive step for the France national team, who have been at odds with their federation for the best part of six months.