Paris claims victory in tussle for Desailly's backing

2012 Olympic bid
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The Independent Online

Marcel Desailly has found himself at the centre of a tussle between the rival bids of London and Paris for the 2012 Olympics.

Marcel Desailly has found himself at the centre of a tussle between the rival bids of London and Paris for the 2012 Olympics.

Leaders of the Paris bid claimed victory over London yesterday in the battle for Desailly's support despite suggestions by Sebastian Coe that the footballer was considering backing the British capital. Lord Coe, London's bid chairman and a Chelsea supporter, hinted in a radio interview on Monday night that Desailly, who has been heckled by France fans in recent matches, may be signed up as an ambassador. But leaders of the Paris bid responded by insisting that the veteran defender and his international team-mates will be supporting the French capital.

Desailly has featured in promotional material for London's bid and Lord Coe said: "I saw Marcel in Monaco recently and thanked him for allowing us to use him in our branding. I then jokingly asked him if he would be one of our ambassadors and he said he'd consider it, so we are still discussing it."

The Paris bid team issued a press release yesterday quoting Desailly as saying: "As a Frenchman, I will always support a French bid. I think the Olympics would be great not only for Paris but also for the whole of France."

They claim Desailly and all his team-mates in the French national side signed an agreement to support the Paris bid in February, and Philippe Baudillon, chief executive of Paris 2012, commented: "We are delighted that Marcel has reconfirmed his support for Paris 2012. They [the France squad] have pledged to act as ambassadors of our bid."

Gérard Enault, of the French Football Federation said: "Marcel has spoken with Sebastian Coe and has agreed to work only on some goodwill projects."

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