are the media doing too much with the future of Kylian Mbappé?

Thursday, the information according to which the PSG star informed his president of his departure at the end of the season, confirmed by Radio France, had the effect of a new media earthquake.

France Télévisions – Sports Editorial


Reading time: 6 min

A shock wave felt as far away as Portugal, more than 1,500 kilometers from Paris. At the end of a grueling and frustrating Europa League match for his team against Benfica on Thursday, Toulouse Moussa Diarra was questioned about the announcement of Kylian Mbappé’s future departure from PSG. Surprised, even frightened at the microphone of Canal +the young defender kicked into touch: “Honestly, I don’t know what to think about it. I play in Toulouse. We play against Benfica and people talk to me about PSG. It’s not that I don’t care a bit, but I have other problems to manage than Mbappé’s career.”

The sequence aroused the annoyance of many observers on social networks. The next day, the first five questions of the press conference of the Parisian coach, Luis Enrique, before Nantes-PSG focused on Kylian Mbappé. In Lille, Reims and even Montpellier, players and coaches were also entitled to it. The satirical account French Federation of Lose made fun of it on surprised that the French biathletes who won medals at the Biathlon Worlds were not questioned about the future of the current PSG player.

An audience booster

This nagging soap opera punctuated by false starts which has been running since May 2019 has created weariness among some fans of football and other sports, among supporters of Ligue 1 clubs, but also among those of Paris Saint-Germain. Franceinfo: sport asked five PSG fans of different ages and backgrounds. All agree that “the media are doing too much” on Kylian Mbappé. “There are more articles on him than on PSG. In a team sport, it’s rather disturbing”, points out Julien, 18 years old and member of the Collectif Ultras Paris. More detached, Fred, 64 years old and a former regular at the Auteuil stand, believes that “It is in tune with the times” because “it must be a seller”.

“This is reflected in the site’s audiences. All the topics we do on Mbappé are among those most read by our readers in recent days. There is an appetite to delve deeper into the raw information of his departure “, confirms Lionel Dangoumau, director of the paper and digital editorial offices of the L’Equipe group, whose newspaper made four consecutive headlines on Kylian Mbappé, from February 13 to 16. Same story at RMC Sport, which was the first media to reveal the announcement of Kylian Mbappé to its president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi of his desire to leave Paris when his contract expires on June 30. “My barometer is interactions on social networks and calls to the switchboard. Indeed, Mbappé topics work very well, like all PSG and OM topics”explains Gilbert Brisbois, editor-in-chief of After Foot.

He does not note “no weariness” linked to this subject in this daily program of football specialists. “You always get fed up very quickly when you go from radio to radio or from channel to channel and it talks about the same thing. People who don’t like football will say that we tire them with Mbappé”he puts things into perspective, while deploring “a kind of following” in sports media. RMC, on its website, as The Team and Canal + through the question asked to Toulouse Moussa Diarra, all explored the angle of the reaction of Ligue 1 to the upcoming departure of the standard-bearer of French football.

Not just a media fascination

“It’s always interesting from a journalistic point of view to ask the question of the aftermath and the consequences. If the Ligue 1 players don’t think anything of it, that’s also information. As they are the ones first witnesses of what the departure of Kylian Mbappé may or may not change, it’s normal to question them”, argues Lionel Dangoumau. In the midst of negotiating TV rights for the French championship – the majority source of income for French clubs – the question of the attractiveness of Ligue 1 arises, especially a year after the departures of Neymar and Lionel Messi.

Correspondent.  Mbappé: the interview -

Correspondent. Mbappé: the interview

Correspondent. Mbappé: the interview – (SPECIAL SEND / FRANCE 2)

In addition to the issues raised by his departure, Kylian Mbappé ticks all the boxes to be an object of fascination, not just media. “It symbolizes total success, analysis Gilbert Brisbois. He’s the best player in the world. He’s young. He seems to master everything around him with a rather astonishing maturity. His family model is virtuous while many footballers get lost due to problems linked to those around them. We have the impression that everything is thought out with him. It is also a symbol of crossbreeding. In the current debates in French society, that is important.”

For Laurent-David Samama, member of the Sports Observatory of the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, who analyzed the media coverage of football in his book Footporn (L’Aube, 2021), seeing Kylian Mbappé occupy so much media space is logical. All the noise surrounding his transfer is part of what he calls the “pornography” soccer. “It’s not something that happens on a moral level, but it has to do with the way we prioritize performance, big shots, efficiency today”he specifies.

Public perception has changed

According to him, Kylian Mbappé ticks all the boxes to be the star of his time, where admiration has taken over the effect of identification: “Before, there were small players, a little weak, capable of having less good days. The French team of Tigana, Giresse, Platini and Fernandez was not that of athletic monsters, but of players who resembled the France of their time. Even if they were very talented, they were not that special. Kylian Mbappé swallows the 100 meters like an athlete, he stacks goals, he is flexible and extremely efficient. to any test. None of us can decently say to ourselves that we have these qualities.”

It is not without reason that Kylian Mbappé is the most searched French personality on Google in 2023, all categories combined, or that he has 50 million more subscribers than his own club on Instagram. Indicators which show that the passion of the French media for Kylian Mbappé, however powerful it may be, goes beyond the strict framework of their editorial lines.

“People know him and like him even if they don’t like football. Children, even very young ones, know him. Americans know him. They often invite him to the front row of NBA games, which few of football players can boast of.”

Laurent-David Samama

member of the Sports Observatory of the Jean-Jaurès Foundation

He identifies one of the sources of weariness in a shift in public perception: “The opinion of keen observers, long-time football fans, who love the game, counts a little less”, he deciphers, pointing to the takeover of social networks and the disappearance of a “strong specialized press” who could “make rain or shine”. Now able to make comments without going through a media, the public “no longer wants the critic’s posture at all”. “The times are very Manichean and people take communication at face value,” adds Laurent-David Samama.

Not enough to cool the specialized media. “Kylian Mbappé will stay in the League 1 for a few more months. We don’t yet officially know where it’s going to go, although we have a small idea. Obviously, this is a file that will keep us busy for a few more weeks, warns the director of the paper and digital editorial offices of The TeamLionel Dangoumau. I can also announce that we will still be following him a lot when he is at his next club.”

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