The day Eric Cantona failed to bring down the French banks

Eric Cantona, previously famous mostly for football and sardines, yesterday helped to spawn a giant red herring.

In an interview in October Cantona called for "millions" of people to withdraw their money from banks, to "bring down the system". The idea developed into an international buzz on the internet calling for a "bloodless revolution" on 7 December.

And so the day came. What happened? Not very much.

Cantona, now a successful film actor, had forewarned a bank in a small town in northern France that he intended to withdraw "a sum greater than €1,500" yesterday. Photographers and film crews surrounded the bank all day. Cantona was filming nearby – a movie about bank robbers – but did not turn up to claim his money.

Earlier, a group of costumed French political activists, one of them dressed up as Eric Cantona and the rest as cartoon bank robbers, withdrew a few hundred euros from a bank in Paris.

Another internet buzz pointed out that Cantona's wife, the actress Rachida Brakni, had often appeared in advertisements on French TV to promote the bank LCL (Le Crédit Lyonnais). A satirical site in France has created a spoof version of the ad in which Brakni is shown asking to withdraw "all the money I made from advertising Crédit Lyonnais".

Otherwise, despite 34,000 promises given to sites promoting a "bloodless revolution", banks across Europe said there had been no noticeable increase in cash withdrawals or account closures.

Didier Barello, head of LCL branches in Marseille, Cantona's home town, said: "We have had no advance requests from clients for large sums of cash. We were expecting them but we haven't received a single one." There were similar reports from other French cities and other European countries.

Géraldine Feuillien, the Belgian scriptwriter who started the Cantona-inspired internet appeal for mass bank withdrawals, said that she had received scores of messages from people who said that they had reclaimed their cash. She said that one message came from a "bank employee who withdrew his money (on Monday) and was immediately fired".

The buzz began with off-the-cuff remarks which Cantona made to the provincial French newspaper, Presse Océan on 7 October. In the interview, Cantona said: "If you want to talk about revolution, there is no point in taking up arms and killing people. There is something very simple that we can do. The system is based on the power of the banks. If 20,000,000 people withdraw their money, the system collapses, no need for weapons, or blood or anything." The interview created a minor sensation on the internet, leading to calls for a "Cantona day".

The former Manchester United striker has long been known for his enigmatic pronouncements. His most celebrated was in 1995, after he was banned from football for several months for drop-kicking an abusive fan, when he told journalists: "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown in to the sea."

Since retiring from football in 1997, Cantona has – despite initial mockery – become a successful film actor. In recent months, he has made a series of political statements, which have been assembled and translated by the Manchester United fanzine Red Issue.

"Being French, to me, is first and foremost being a revolutionary," he said in one interview. "I am from an immigrant family, which is something I never forget, of working-class Sardinians and Catalonians, and of political refugees... My ancestors were fighters, something I have inherited. For me revolution still remains pertinent."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border