Hollande holds footballers to high standard

French President Francois Hollande said on Saturday the players who represented France at football should take a leaf out of the book of the young men who don the French army uniform.

Socialist Hollande - elected in May unseating right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy - said in a televised interview after the Bastille Day military parade the recent poor headlines engendered by several members of the France Euro 2012 squad had nothing to do with a lack of integration into French society.

"Look at the soldiers who marched here, they don't earn a lot of money and they are prepared to give their lives. 83 soldiers have died in Afghanistan," said Hollande, who is due to honour a pre-election promise and withdraw all French troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

"Among these young men who marched, who are in theatres of war, they come from all walks of life, including the most difficult areas, therefore the French footballers problem is not one of integration but of respect."

Hollande added that it was also nothing to do with the players being overpaid.

"It is not simply a problem of money.

"The Spanish side which won the European Championship are very well paid but you saw what they are like as a team during the game?! (...) Spain are not doing well economically but the team did them some good, to all those Spaniards who are suffering.

"When one wears the national jersey, it is also imperative one thinks of all those who are suffering," said the 57-year-old.

Hollande, only the second Socialist President of the Fifth Republic and first since Francois Mitterrand (1981-1995), said that essentially it boiled down to respect.

"When you are a member of the France team, you have to have respect for the jersey, respect for the spectators, respect for the other team," he said.

"It is not results that I judge them on, it is their attitude.

"When one wears the French team jersey, you have to be on your best behaviour."

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