France’s iconic football captain Kylian Mbappe warned on Thursday that his country is in a “catastrophic” political climate, as it edges toward potentially having its first far-right government since World War II.

One of the most high-profile people in France, Mbappe said it was “really urgent” to vote in the second round of legislative elections in the country after the far-right National Rally emerged as the biggest party in last weekend’s first round.

The National Rally gained around 33% of the vote nationwide on Sunday, leaving Marine Le Pen’s party poised to potentially gain power.

The second round of the legislative elections is on Sunday and Mbappe was asked if he had a message to the nation.

“I think now, more than ever, you need to get (out to vote),” said Mbappe, who was speaking in Hamburg, Germany, the day before France plays Portugal there in the European Championship quarterfinals.

“It is a really urgent juncture. We cannot let our country fall into the hands of these people. It is pressing – we saw the results, it is catastrophic.”

Mbappe made a similar call earlier at Euro 2024 when he said “The extremes are knocking on the door of power.”

Now, there was a sense of urgency in his sentiments.

“We really hope this is going to change,” he said of the election results, “that everyone is going to rally together to go and vote, and vote for the right party.”

President Emmanuel Macron called the snap election after a defeat at the hands of the National Rally in European Parliament elections last month, gambling that the far-right would not repeat its success in a domestic ballot.

The plan backfired and Le Pen’s rivals are now desperately trying to prevent the National Rally winning an outright majority in Sunday’s second round.

France’s players have been asked regularly about the political situation back home during news conferences at Euro 2024.

Ousmane Dembele said “the alarm bell has been sounded” and fellow forward Marcus Thuram went further by saying French people “need to fight daily so that … the National Rally does not succeed.”

The National Rally is the party with a history of racism and xenophobia.

France’s soccer team which won the Euro 2000 title two years after lifting the nation’s first World Cup trophy in Paris was hailed as a model of diversity and unity.

The mix of “Black, Blanc, Beur” (Black, white and Arab) players was an echo of the French tricolor flag of blue, white and red.

Relishing another encounter with hero Ronaldo

Back to football, Mbappe is relishing another encounter with boyhood hero Cristiano Ronaldo, whose posters he used to stick on his bedroom wall.

Mbappe was only 10 when he met the Portuguese great for the first time, cheekily asking for his boots after sneaking into the press area at the conclusion of the 2009 Champions League clash between Olympique de Marseille and Real Madrid. He still regards the 39-year-old as an idol.

“It’s an honor to play against him, everyone knows the admiration I have for the player. We are in contact. He asks me about what’s going on in my life and he gives me tips and it’s an honor for me, especially when you think about what he’s done for the footballing world,” Mbappe said.

“He’s one of a kind… there will never be another Cristiano Ronaldo. He has shaped football. He inspires and has inspired generations. He has scored goals, he’s won cups, his CV speaks for itself.

“So total respect for him but I hope that tomorrow he will be not as happy because I hope that it’ll be us going to the semifinals.”

Mbappe predicted a tight tussle, saying “small details” will be decisive in the clash at the Volksparkstadion.

“The Euros are always a tight race, it’s always a very difficult competition for us. Now you’ve only got huge teams left competing, and you need to be on top of every little detail, be it upfront or defending,” he said.

“During our training sessions, there were improvements, we were working on our finishing and our intensity. We worked as best we could with the time that we had. But we’re ready and raring to go for tomorrow.”

France have had four days to recuperate since Monday’s narrow 1-0 win over Belgium, which has also been more time for Mbappe to get used to the face mask he has had to wear since breaking his nose in their opening game of the tournament.

He described it as horrible previously but on Thursday had dampened his disdain.

“If the truth be told, I’m lucky because without the mask, I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be playing. I should be thanking the mask. I told you how I felt and that’s not going to change tomorrow, or right up until the end of the competition,” he said.

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