French President Macron participates in charity soccer match ahead of Paris Olympics

showed off his sporting prowess again Wednesday, this time as Paris gears up to hold the Summer Olympics. Macron, a well-known soccer fan, participated in a charity match wearing a jersey alongside soccer legends and celebrity players at a club in Yvelines, west of Paris. The event, which raises money for a children’s health charity chaired by first lady Brigitte Macron, featured a lineup including former World Cup winners Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps. Since being elected in 2017, the 46-year-old has seized multiple opportunities to demonstrate his athletic skills — and physique — in what observers view as a photo-friendly way to brandish a dynamic image as modern France’s youngest-ever president. Earlier this year, photos of Macron pounding a punching bag went viral on social media in what was widely perceived as the latest round in his drive to toughen up Europe’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Macron has also promised to take a dip in the Seine’s recently revitalized fresh waters, which will be used for Olympic contests on several days during the Games. On Wednesday, the French president took to the field as a midfielder, playing alongside 1998 World Cup champions and football icons such as Zinedine Zidane and Eden Hazard. The match also saw participation from other notable personalities like MMA fighter Cyril Gane and former German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann. Not exactly new to the football scene, Macron has previously participated in a charity match, notably scoring from the penalty spot in a game against health care workers three years ago. Post-match, all participants in Wednesday’s game were invited to the presidential Elysee Palace, highlighting the social stature of the event amid the buildup to the Games. This charity match underlines Macron’s ongoing engagement with sports as a means of promoting both charitable causes and national spirit ahead of the significant international spectacle of the Olympics set to take place in Paris July 26 to Aug. 11.