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The world’s most expensive footballer takes a stand against gambling

After refusing to be photographed with the French national team, footballer Kylian Mbappe has brought renewed attention to the social role of sports stars. According to reports, the 23-year-old striker for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) has stated that he will not participate in a photoshoot scheduled for Tuesday with the World Champions until image rights agreements are “modified.” According to the French newspaper Le Parisien, the footballer sees online betting as a danger to his younger fans and is frustrated with being associated with obesity-inducing fast food. Because Mbappe is widely regarded as one of the best and most marketable players in the world, the financial implications were enormous, especially given that France’s title defense in Qatar is only two months away. So it came as no surprise when a deal was reached on Tuesday. Following the French Football Federation’s announcement that it would review its decision on image rights, the striker changed his stance and took part in the shoot. Mbappe is not the first sports star to enter politics, and he will not be the last. During a press conference for the UEFA Euro 2020 in June 2021, Cristiano Ronaldo pushed two Coca-Cola bottles from his table, instead asking for “water.” The Portuguese captain, a proponent of healthy eating, was visibly distressed when he noticed the black fizzy drinks in front of him, quickly sweeping them out of the camera frame. Ronaldo’s actions sparked an internet frenzy, with memes, parody videos, and (occasionally) witty jokes saturating social media. Coca-Cola’s share price fell 1.6% and its market value fell from €241 to €237 billion – a €4 billion drop – but this was a temporary setback for the soft drinks giant, which quickly recovered. Coca-Cola, a cup sponsor, stated that “everyone is entitled to their drink preferences” based on “different tastes and needs.” Just one day after Ronaldo’s departure, French footballer Paul Pogba hid a bottle of Heineken beer before a press conference. The Juventus player, a devout Muslim, hid the bottle of non-alcoholic Heineken 0.0 after being named man of the match in a 1-0 victory over Germany. Former Newcastle United player Papiss Cisse also took a stand when he played for the club, protesting against its pay-day loan sponsor due to his religious beliefs. ‘Black strength’ However, this is not a new phenomenon. Muhammad Ali, long before the age of social media, smashed his way to becoming the world heavyweight boxing champion in 1964, famously declaring, “I am the greatest.” The boxer and activist became a Muslim and renounced his birth name Cassius Clay as a “slave name,” becoming one of the most famous and recognizable athletes of his time. The United States was embroiled in the devastating Vietnam War at the time. Ali was drafted but refused to join the military. He made a decision based on his religious beliefs and his strong ethical opposition to the war. The conscientious objector was promptly arrested and later convicted of draft evasion, cementing his place as a counterculture icon of the 1960s. Authorities stripped Ali of his title and suspended his fighting license. For three years, he did not fight. It is one of the most iconic images in sporting history: two black American athletes on top of a medal platform, fists clenched. They are Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who finished first and third in the 200m sprint at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The pair accepted their medals and stood on the platform for the national anthem after winning the race. Carlos and Smith both gave a “Black Power salute” as the Star Spangled Banner began. Despite Smith breaking the men’s World Record, they were booed as they exited the platform. During the civil rights movement in the United States, Carlos and Smith were protesting the treatment of black Americans and other minorities. Both athletes were kicked out of the games, had their medals taken away, and were widely chastised for their actions, but their legacy lives on today. Politics on and off the field Political stunts by athletes are still contentious. Idrissa Gueye missed a match for PSG in May after players were asked to wear shirts with rainbow numbers to show their support for LGBT+ equality and inclusion. According to his former manager, Mauricio Pochettino, Gueye missed the game due to “personal reasons.” He also missed the corresponding match the previous season. French President Emmanuel Macron slammed the Senegalese player’s actions on Twitter “Homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia strike, discriminate against, and reject. Everyone has the right to be themselves, to love and to be loved.” In 2021, Ivory Coast footballer Wilfried Zaha declared that he would no longer take a knee, becoming one of the first English Premier League players to do so. Instead, the Crystal Palace striker has pledged to “stand tall” when he returns from injury, believing that protesting is no longer enough. “I think the meaning behind it all is becoming something we just do now, “He stated. “That is insufficient. “I’m not taking the knee.” Zaha, who claims his mother has made him donate 10% of his earnings to charity since he was 16, also claims that racism against black players continues online, implying that the protests were ineffective. “We’re trying to say we’re equal, but it’s not working,” he explained. “Don’t ask me about it unless something has changed.” I don’t want to hear about it unless there is going to be action.”