France soccer player Koundé 'disappointed' at election results with far-right close to taking power

Jules Kounde of France, left, vies for the ball with Belgium's Jeremy Doku during a round of sixteen match between France and Belgium at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Duesseldorf, Germany, Monday, July 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) — France soccer player Jules Koundé said he was “disappointed to see the direction our country is taking” after results from the first round of legislative elections left the nation’s far-right party closer than ever of getting into power.

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, a party with a history of racism and xenophobia and once shunned by the mainstream, had about 33% of the vote. The decisive second round of voting is on Sunday.

“It isn’t over yet,” Koundé said, speaking through a translator after France’s 1-0 win over Belgium at the the European Championship. “It is very important so that the extreme right-wing party … doesn’t come in.”

Tapping into voter frustration with inflation and a sense that many French families are being left behind by globalization, the National Rally is hoping to claim an outright majority so it can form France’s first far-right government since World War II. However, the outcome remains uncertain amid the complex voting system and political tactics.

France’s players, many of whom have immigrant backgrounds, have been asked regularly about the political situation back home in news conferences at Euro 2024.

France’s star striker, Kylian Mbappé, previously called on French people to vote and warned against “extremes” at a time when the far right seeks to take power. Another squad member, Ousmane Dembele, has said “the alarm bell has been sounded” and Marcus Thuram went further by saying French people “need to fight daily so that ... the National Rally does not succeed.”


AP Euro 2024: