Will the boycott of Kylian Mbappé’s sponsors lead to a revolution in image rights?

When he puts on his boots, we only talk about Kylian Mbappe. And although he is still in sneakers, we continue to talk about him. This Tuesday, the PSG striker unleashed a storm to the top of the FFF without moving from his room in Clairefontaine, where “Kyky” and his teammates were preparing their friendly matches against the Ivory Coast this Friday in Marseillethen South Africa on Tuesday in Nice.

By failing to show up for Fédé’s partner brand ‘shootout’ sessions, the 2018 world champion has derailed a plan that has so far gone almost smoothly. It seems that only certain sponsors are subject to the 23-year-old star’s wrath. the parisian cites Coca-Cola, KFC or even BetClic, an online sports betting operator.

In a press release sent to AFP on Wednesday, the Mbappé clan indicated that this rapprochement “was in no way a rebellion.” Rather a protest against an agreement signed since 2010 by each French international before his first international match, which records the player’s commitments to the FFF partners, and indicates that he will receive 25,000 euros per match played if he respects them. “The conditions of this agreement no longer allow the image of football to be developed with respect to the values ​​that the institution can carry, but also those of each player on the team,” continues the rather nebulous press release.

Healthy food yes, sports betting blah

What are the “values” defended by the native of Bondy, in Seine-Saint-Denis? Already healthy nutrition from an early age, as indicated by his now-defunct association with Good Goût, a brand of organic food for babies and children, or his commitment to his foundation, Inspired by KM. Much less sports betting, which according to several recent surveys has an unfortunate trend to empty the wallets of the less fortunate youth.

Mbappé, however, continues to appear in the ads of Unibet, sponsor of PSG, perhaps pending the renegotiation of a contract that expires in June or, more likely, his departure to Real Madrid.

With his boycott on Tuesday, the probable future Ballon d’Or would also have wanted to warn about the redistribution of profits from the operations carried out by the FFF that he would like to see directed more towards the “foot from below”. “I am in total resonance with Kylian Mbappé, who is not only the best player in the world but also a citizen”, greets Eric Thomas, president of French Amateur Football Association (AFFA) and former candidate for the presidency of the Federation.

A challenge also for amateur football

“It has a real reflection of the social role of football. The money should go to amateur football that is dying, but it is not. The income from these operations goes to the FFF, the authorities and professional football. Suffice it to say that the Tourangeau does not believe Noël Le Graët, of whom he is a staunch opponent, when the Breton assures inside The team that “all that are recipes [de ces opérations] go to amateur football [90 millions d’euros cette saison] and training”.

The Fed chief, who tried in vain to convince Mbappé to honor his commitments on Tuesday, is not planning to crack down on his jewel. “There will be a letter from the lawyers that will be sent to him and his lawyer [Delphine Verheyden], he assures. We will see point by point what the problem is. We want to make things better and make people, sponsors and players happy. »

A convention too out of date with the current reality of Blues

The “s” in “players” is important. Because Mbappé could create jurisprudence and arouse the desire to boycott among her colleagues who until now did not dare to snub certain photo or video sessions. Be that as it may, the current convention, risen from the ashes of such a disastrous 2010 World Cup sportingly than in terms of images, it has certainly lived.

“After Knysna, we are at the bottom of the hole, so the players accept everything, recalls a connoisseur of the federal operation. Today they are world champions, they have a track record, they are in a position of strength. “If the Fed hasn’t followed up on your complaints since then, it’s normal for the boomerang to come back in your face,” continues another witness, on condition of anonymity.

Kylian Mbappé is seen as a treasure by the FFF, both in the offices and on the pitch.
Kylian Mbappé is seen as a treasure by the FFF, both in the offices and on the pitch. – Frank Fife / AFP

Because Mbappé’s brilliance on Tuesday at Clairefontaine is nothing like a flash in a cloudless sky. For several years now, the 25,000 euros per game that “only” are allocated to campaigns in favor of international brands that cook millions (like many Blues with their clubs) have made some players and those around them cough.

And there, no more question of white knights fighting for who knows what values. double world champion (1998, 2018) and two-time European champion (1984, 2000), the current French team has nothing to do with the one, lacking titles and picking up sportingly, that Henri Emile met when he joined the FFF in 1972.

After the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, the former assistant to eight coaches saw Michel Platini, through his impresario Bernard Genestar, and Jean-Claude Darmon, also known as “the biggest fundraiser in French football.” , deal with the “third for the players”. – one third for Fédé – one third for Darmon and Genestar”. Times have changed, the sums raised by the Blues have increased considerably, but certain ideas of the time could still inspire contemporary decision makers.

“Regulations, in the photos, there were at least eight players, so there are always the same three or four stars, as we see too much today, continues Henri Emile. That’s why I think Mbappé must have said that he was going too far because it shows in all the photos. Before the World Cup in Mexico [1986], Tigana had grumbled because she considered that he was in all the photos and asked to see the contracts. It dragged on and the day before he left for Mexico, we had no more news of him, he refused to leave. We end up finding him and calming him down, but he proves that incidents of this nature are not new. »

The now octogenarian, exmanitas bruises, recalls “turning down a contract with a flour brand that wanted players to be filmed in bakers’ outfits.” Or even having rejected the offer “from an American restaurant brand that wanted to advertise with the players’ bus stopping to eat a sandwich.”

A problem “not simple from the legal point of view”

Emile has seen football evolve, player entourages expand and specialize. It is not surprising that lawyers dissect the agreement that links the FFF with its internationals, down to the footnotes written in the body 2. “The problem raised is not simple from a legal point of view, Me Jean-Jacques Bertrand, a specialist in sports law, who notably accompanied Luzenac in their fight against the Fed and the LFP. You have a mix of colliding personal and collective rights and, in between, dominant and less dominant rights. »

“It’s complicated”, as we say in Ariège, among the conventions that bind a French international to his club, to his national team through the FFF or even to his personal sponsors. “And above all that you can have what is called a conscience clause, adds Me Bertrand. If something offends your social, political or religious beliefs, your ethics, there is also room to find the possibility of a refusal. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily justified, but you can at least present it. »

A carefully considered boycott

For the lawyer, Mbappé does not get involved in this confrontation with the Fed without arguments. “Delphine Verheyden is a serious person, I don’t see her giving advice or giving her opinion without being sure of herself. This also seems to be the opinion of Noël Le Graët, who is already known to be more corrosive. “There will be another operation with the sponsors, at the beginning of the school year, before going in the world cuplaunched into The team. I assure you that at that moment everything will be arranged. “With a dusted-off, more player-friendly convention?

Mbappé in his works

Since his first selection in March 2017, Kylian Mbappé has donated his bonuses to charity. In 2018 he paid his world champion bonus, or €350,000, to Premiers de Cordée, which currently helps 10,000 sick children. The young player had become one of the association’s patrons the year before, when he was barely of legal age, through former TF1 journalist Christian Jeanpierre, who was close to his parents.

“Kylian was looking for an association that would suit him and play football with children, that’s what he wanted to do,” underlines the Stade de France-based structure. His arrival allowed us to take on a national dimension, have cash, launch new projects. With your 2018 donation, we funded a full-time educator for five years. But the most important thing for us is that he comes for our operations in the hospital. She comes, plays soccer for 1h30 and then signs autographs. »

If he contributes to the finances and projects of Premiers de Cordée, as well as those of his Inspired by KM foundation, Mbappé also sometimes helps other associations. During the first confinement, in March 2020, the Abbé-Pierre Foundation had indicated that it had received “a very large donation”, the amount of which had not been communicated, to help the people most weakened by the health crisis.

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