Eric Cantona bemoans France's culture
Eric Cantona has decried a lack of "football culture" in France, highlighting the fact Paris has only one major club.
• Holyman: Outdated philosophy
Though Paris Saint-Germain won the Ligue 1 title last season, they still do not play every home game in front of sell-out crowds, and that despite Lille -- a two-hour drive north -- being their closest top-flight rivals.
Never short of passion himself, Cantona, 47, experienced a fervour for football that matched his own during his playing days at Leeds and Manchester United, but told L'Equipe most of his compatriots do not share his love of the game.
"There are six clubs in Rio, the same in London. In other big cities like Rome, Barcelona, Milan, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Manchester, Istanbul, they have at least two, but in France, we've never been able to have two viable clubs in Paris," Cantona explained.
"It's not only unique to Paris either. France is the only country in which there aren't two top-level clubs in the same city. I'm talking about the top league. We have to face up to the facts: France doesn't have a football culture, doesn't have passion for football. That's the situation today anyway. Perhaps it will change."
Now a successful actor, Cantona has also been fronting a Canal+ documentary series featuring some of football's biggest rivalries. He feels France's football authorities must avoid a gentrification of the sport via escalating ticket prices if they are to increase interest in and around the game.
"When they sell the TV rights for hundreds of millions, perhaps they should force clubs to keep some tickets at reasonable prices for a certain section of the population so that football is not lost to those who make it so popular, the lower-middle class, you could even say the under-privileged," the former France international forward claimed.
"Football has often been the only means for the least favoured classes to express themselves. Football mustn't be allowed to be lost to them."