Eric Cantona had a reason for fooling the French public Tuesday. The people of the country thought former Manchester United star was planning to run for president, The Associated Press reports, but it turns out he was raising support for the Fondation Abbe Pierre — an organization working to provide housing for the poor.
On Monday night, Cantona published a cryptic letter on the website of French newspaper Liberation seeking 500 signatures from mayors in French cities and towns. That is the number needed to qualify for a place on the ballot for the presidential elections, which will be held in April and May.
"I'm a committed citizen," Cantona's letter said. "This engagement obliges me to speak up, more seriously than usual, but also with a keen sense of my responsibility, at a time when our country is faced with difficult choices."
On Tuesday morning, Liberation published an interview with the soccer star. In it, he revealed that he was not running for president, but wants presidential candidates to make affordable housing a primary issue in the elections and support the Fondation Abbe Pierre.
"'We told ourselves we needed an extra kick' for a petition urging presidential candidates to make housing a campaign priority," Patrick Doutreligne told the AP. "The petition calls on the next president to regulate rent and property prices, build more public housing and other measures."
Cantona, 45, was a superstar in English soccer from 1992-97. He led Leeds United to a First Division title in 1992 after a moving to the club in January of that year. He switched to Manchester United the following November and would go on to win four Premier League titles and two FA Cups. He announced his shock retirement at the end of the 1996-97 season, at the age of 30.
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