By denouncing the violence of Kurt Zouma on his cat, he released one of the most famous memes of the beginning of the year 2022: today, Frank Lebœuf is committed to animals by embodying PETA France’s new campaign to promote adoption. Interview with a madman of dogs and cats.
Interview by Brice Bossavie
It was after my outburst against Kurt Zouma that PETA approached me. I had also already done a small report on M6 for animals, and they contacted me to find out if I was interested in promoting their next adoption campaign. I told them : “No problem, here we go! »
In France, 100,000 animals are abandoned each year, including 60,000 in summer, according to PETA. Did you know these numbers before you signed up?
No, sincerely. I was flabbergasted. There would have been 10,000, that would have amazed me too, but 100,000 what… 100,000 is huge. I can understand the dismay of some people who are perhaps forced to do this for financial reasons, but when I see that people offer a dog or a cat for Christmas and that it is then abandoned, I tell myself that the people are crazy. I had a lot of animals, and the truth must be said, I myself had to return a female dog once because I was going to England with my family. But I did not abandon her. I had no choice, because I didn’t want her to stay locked up for six months because of a quarantine imposed at the time in England. So I preferred to return it to the person who had sold it to me. I also had this law changed in England after being able to discuss with Tony Blair. It was my struggle when I met him.
“I went to see Tony Blair and I said to him, ‘I’m not necessarily interested in politics, but we have a big quarantine problem with pets for people coming into the country.’ »
You changed a law on the entry of animals into England when you were a Chelsea player?
Yes that’s it. It was after 1998, I remember that Tony Blair came one day with Alastair Campbell (Tony Blair’s communications director at the time, editor’s note) at the Chelsea training ground, and I was talking to Marcel Desailly, telling him that I wanted to talk to them because I couldn’t give my daughter a dog because of this law. He told me : ” But you are crazy ! » I went to see Tony Blair and I said to him: “Politics doesn’t necessarily interest me, but we have a big quarantine problem with pets for people arriving in the country. » He then told me that he was working on the subject by suggesting that I go to 10 Downing Street the next day. (place of residence of the English Prime Minister, editor’s note) and I found myself the next day there. I then went there regularly to drink tea and especially to discuss the law, and it was finally changed. Today, with a chipped dog, you can go back and forth between France and England with your dog. What I couldn’t do at the time.
Do you remember your first pet?
It was a cat, which lived 23 years. By force, my mother called him ” Old ” . (Laughs.) And then we had a cocker spaniel. I remember all my dogs, I had pets all my life, even in Qatar. We had left two big Beaucerons in Aix, I had my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law who looked after them, and I had brought a Maltese Bichon there. Animals are really important to me. I have always had dogs and cats in my life, when I was a kid and even now. I have three cats and a dog at home, and I can’t live without animals. My wife tells me: “But stop, it’s okay. » Me, I watch them play together, I observe them, I talk to my cats and my dogs, it’s part of my life! And without them, I would find that the house would be a bit empty.
What is the difference between cats and dogs?
When you leave for twenty minutes and you have a dog, you have the impression when you come back that you have been gone for two years. Cats are something else. Cats are shit. (Laughs.) They come to your place and decide it’s their place. Their attitude is funny, I need a hug you give me one, I’m fed up leave me alone. The personality of the cats reminds me of Ibrahimović. Ibra, I know him a little bit, he’s an adorable guy, but when he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t want to. And when he wants, he decides. You must do as he pleases. Because he’s tough, so you can’t tell him anything!
You could also compare dogs to a player?
No, because I’ve never seen a player love me so much.
Do you know how many footballers have pets?
Yes I saw a lot of them, I remember Éric Cantona who had dogs, I remember a photo of him on the front page of a newspaper where we saw him leaving from behind with his dogs next to him, that makes me had marked. You want to recreate a family when you’re a football player, because you left home very early most of the time. And animals are part of it.
PETA’s campaign is all about adoption. Have you ever adopted an animal?
I adopted at the SPA when I was very young. Two of my three cats are also adopted: I found one on vacation in Miami all alone under a house, and another on the side of a road while I was on a scooter. Otherwise, I’ve taken dogs from breeders, but I won’t do that again. Because I didn’t know the dropout figures. But overall, I can’t leave an animal that I see on the street, abandoned. If I see an animal alone, I need to know if it is abandoned or not. The other day, I came across a dog on her own, there was the address on her collar. She stayed an hour at my house waiting for the owner to pick her up.
“The other day, I came across a dog on her own, there was the address on her collar. She stayed an hour at my house waiting for the owner to pick her up. »
According to PETA, of the 100,000 animals abandoned each year, 60,000 are abandoned in the summer. How do you explain it?
I think people are selfish. We go on vacation, and we don’t know what to do because it costs money to put our animal in a shelter, we don’t want to take it because it’s sometimes forbidden to take it to a campsite or a hotel, and we get rid of it. Because it’s not important to them. Afterwards, some people also have to do it because they realize they can’t afford an animal, and it must be heartbreaking for them. But for many others… I don’t understand. It gives an idea of the human race. I find that we don’t pay enough attention to others, we think a lot about ourselves. We are in an extraordinary individualism, and the abandonment of animals proves that.
So you think we need to improve things through awareness?
In France, we are a Latin country and I think that it mainly involves sanctions. On our side, we can only raise awareness, but on the state side, animal chipping should be compulsory. Since there is a visit to the veterinarian when we take an animal, we should ask that it be chipped obligatorily. The chip would identify the owner, and therefore if the animal is abandoned or if it is killed – because there are people who go even further – the owner would be punished. If someone knows that he will be identified and fined 3000 euros by abandoning his animal, he will not do it. It will only work like that.
“I was called a racist following my video. Kurt (Zouma) would have been white, green or grey, it would have been the same for me. You don’t hit an animal. And if one day I have Kurt in front of me, I’ll tell him. »
In the end, did your famous video on the Zouma affair spark a form of commitment on this subject in you?
At my level yes, since I now work with PETA. But what it mainly triggered was that I was called a racist following my video. It would have been white, green or grey, it would have been the same for me. You don’t hit an animal. And if one day I have Kurt in front of me, I’ll tell him. Maybe not in the same way, I said it out of emotion, but as he hit his cat out of emotion or laughter, I find it crazy. And that people made fun of me in the media, saying: “Leboeuf is sick on social networks”, I don’t care. If people are so stupid to make fun of me when I’m just trying to defend a cause, it shows the absurd state of our society. I had of course thousands of people who supported me, and the justice rendered its verdict for Kurt. But I had to delete my post from Instagram because I received death threats because of it. “We’ll find you, we’ll kill you, we know where you live. It was too much for me. It still touches when you are insulted, and especially threatened with death. But it seems that it is the life of the networks…
Do you regret the shape of this video with hindsight?
It was instinctive and maybe I shouldn’t have done it like that. It’s funny because there’s a phrase that came up: “What are you hiding behind your smile?” » It came back like a boomerang, but that’s okay, that’s part of the thing. I posted this on social media because I was disgusted. But it’s true that maybe I shouldn’t have said anything because it’s really useless. I don’t even know if he saw it, if it touched him… It was a kind of angry cry. But really, I don’t know if it helps. Well, in the end, it allowed me to collaborate with PETA. Besides, I specify that I do not touch any money on this action, because there are people who are crazy enough to think that I am paid on it!
“If you don’t have a bit of self-mockery when your name is Leboeuf, you’re dead. I’ve lived my whole life with it, I even wanted to change my name at one point. My father gave me a pie. »
Didn’t you see any hijackings that made you smile?
Ah yes yes yes, there are things that made me laugh! Songs, stuff… At first, I was a little upset that people were making fun of me. But afterwards, I said to myself that people were creative. My wife made me laugh, she showed me a version of me in Chinese on the video. I believe there was also a video of me in Jamaican! My last name is Leboeuf. If you don’t have a little self-mockery when your name is Leboeuf, you’re dead. I’ve lived my whole life with it, I even wanted to change my name at one point. My father gave me a pie saying: ” It’s not okay ? When you have a name like that, you keep it, people remember it. »
Hola Kurt, que has hecho aqui. Has cracked where? Desde ayer estoy devastated. No comprehension. Has jugado in Chelsea, tenemos el mismo numero. Qué escondes behind you sonrisa? pic.twitter.com/6FM2EsXJCF
— T. (@TPedrajas) February 11, 2022
What message do you want to convey by representing this campaign in the end?
That people have a real reflection before adopting an animal with their children. Because often it is the parents who want to give their children a gift. But they have to think carefully about the responsibility that comes with taking an animal. And then let them go to a shelter. There are animals that need to find a home and are going to be the kindest and happiest to the people who adopt them. They will give you everything you are looking for. They are there.
Interview by Brice Bossavie