Eric Cantona seeks support for shot at becoming next president of France

Former Manchester United striker has sent out letter to mayors to try to gather 500 signatures needed to run in this year’s vote

The Guardian, Tuesday 10 January 2012

Eric Cantona is gathering signatures to run in this year’s French presidential election, the newspaper Libération has reported. It said the former Manchester United striker, who needs 500 elected officials’ backing by the end of February to run, has sent a letter to mayors describing himself as an “engaged citizen” and asking for their support.

The paper quoted Cantona’s letter: “This engagement obliges 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.”

He denounced lack of opportunity for young people in France and social injustices which were “too numerous, too violent, too systematic”.

Election candidates will compete in a first round in late April, with the two biggest vote-winners going through to a decisive second round in early May.

Socialist candidate François Hollande is currently leading President Nicolas Sarkozy in the polls.

Even if Cantona were able to get 500 signatures, a difficult task without the backing of a party, he would have virtually no chance of reaching the second round as an individual outsider.

It is not the first time Cantona, who earned large sums as a footballer from sponsorship by brands such as L’Oréal and Nike, has tried to draw public attention to social inequality.

Last month he called on savers to stage a run on banks across France by them withdrawing their money in protest at their role in triggering the global financial crisis. Panned by the media as a flop, almost no one in France heeded the much-hyped call.

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