Zidane warns against Le Pen in France election run-off

FILE PHOTO - Real Madrid's French coach Zinedine Zidane gestures during a news conference at the Valdebebas training grounds in Madrid, Spain, April 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/Files

MADRID (Reuters) - French soccer legend Zinedine Zidane on Friday warned against voting for Marine Le Pen’s National Front in the run-off in France’s presidential election on May 7, repeating his 2002 stand against the far-right party.

“It is the same as in 2002, that I am far away from those ideas, from the National Front, and that we have to avoid it as much as we can,” said Zidane, who is frequently voted one of France’s most influential personalities and widely regarded as one the greatest players in the history of the game.

Zidane, coach of the Spanish soccer team Real Madrid, spoke after a team training session. He was born in Marseille in southeastern France and is of Algerian descent.

Le Pen trailed centrist Emmanuel Macron at 39 percent of the vote against his 61 percent in a Harris Interactive poll for parliamentary TV channel LCP showed on Thursday.

Several mainstream political figures in France have directly called on voters to back Macron after their candidates failed to reach the runoff. Like Zidane, others have not endorsed him explicitly but urged voters not to back Le Pen.

Reporting by Guillermo Martinez; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Tom Heneghan