In an interview with French radio, 81-year-old Le Graet said he “wouldn’t even have taken his call” if Zidane had been in touch.
French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet apologised to Zinedine Zidane for “awkward remarks” made about the former Real Madrid coach that angered players, officials, and the Spanish club.
Le Graet said on Monday the comments “do not reflect” his views.
“I would like to present my personal apologies for these remarks which absolutely do not reflect my thoughts, nor my consideration for the player he was and the coach he has become,” Le Graet said in a statement reported by L’Equipe.
“I admit that I made awkward remarks which created a misunderstanding. Zidane knows the immense esteem I have for him, like all French people.”
In an interview with RMC Sport earlier this week, Le Graet triggered outrage for what many described as “disrespect” towards the French legend.
When asked if Zidane, a World Cup winner with France in 1998 and a national icon, would now manage the Brazilian national team, Le Graet replied, “I don’t give a damn, he can go wherever he wants.”
Le Graet also went on to say that if Zidane called, he would not even pick up the phone, prompting a backlash and his subsequent apology.
The interview came as the FFF announced head coach Didier Deschamps’s contract extension on Saturday, after he managed to lead the country to a second consecutive World Cup final.
Deschamps’ contract was scheduled to expire at the end of 2022, with Zidane rumoured to take over command of the national team.
On Sunday, Le Graet had said Zidane was on the radar and had plenty of support but stood no chance of replacing Deschamps.
“Who can make serious reproaches to Deschamps? Nobody… If Zidane tried to contact me? Certainly not, I wouldn’t even pick up the phone,” he had said.
‘Lack of respect’
France forward and Golden Boot winner Kylian Mbappe was one of the first to voice his anger after Le Graet’s comments were aired.
“Zidane is France, we don’t disrespect the legend like that,” The French star wrote on his Twitter account after President Le Graet’s comments.
Popularly known as ‘Zizou,’ Zidane ushered France to their first World Cup victory in 1998, scoring two out of the three winning goals in the final.
Within the same year, Zidane won the Ballon d’Or and continued to play for the national side until the 2006 World Cup.
With the mass retirement of veteran key players such as Bixente Lizarazu, Marcel Desailly, Claude Makelele, and Lilian Thuram, the France 2006 campaign was historic for multiple reasons.
Playing against Italy in the finals, Zidane was sent off for headbutting Materazzi in the chest, leaving a last notorious last moment on the pitch.
Upon retiring, Zidane was the first coach to win the Champions League three times in a row when he was in charge of Real Madrid.
The 50-year-old, who also won the 2000 European Championship with France in a glittering playing career, is currently without a job after he left his role with the Spanish club last year.