Eric Cantona leaps to defend his comments about Didier Deschamps selection policy

The former Manchester United man had accused the French coach of dropping Karim Benzema due to race

Eric Cantona leaps to defend his comments about Didier Deschamps selection policy

Picture by: Andrew Medichini / AP/Press Association Images

Eric Cantona has moved to defend his comments about France coach Didier Deschamps selection policy for the European Championships.

During the week, former Manchester United player Cantona suggested that both Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa of being overlooked due to their North African heritage.

In an interview with the Guardian, he took aim at the French manager.

"Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America."

The comments caused furore in in France, with them being branded a 'pathetic attack' and 'totally inappropriate' by French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet, while Deschamps threatened legal action.

Cantona in action for France during his playing career. Picture by: Lionel Cironneau / AP/Press Association Images

However, Cantona has come out and defended his comments, saying that anybody should be 'flattered' to be compared to the Mormons, citing actor Ryan Gosling as an example.

“In this period of disorder and division, I would wish for all of France to be represented in the France team,” he told Le Journal du Dimanche.

“For me, football is a great vehicle for integration and it can serve to unite, to unify.

“This opportunity was missed by not selecting Benzema and Ben Arfa, two of the best French players. Firstly, I think this is a mistake in a sporting sense. Furthermore, the European Championship — in France, moreover — is a festival in which there is an extraordinary opportunity to send a clear message to extremists of any kind.

“Incidentally, those who want to attach any label to me, or to use my words for their own purposes, I want to clarify that I am not a puppet of any ideology. I am an atheist: I am, and always will be, a free man!

“And what’s more, when I speak of Mormons, Mr Deschamps should feel flattered: Ryan Gosling is Mormon and is the fantasy of every woman. And for those who want to believe that I added to anti-white racism, my answer is nothing but contempt.”