Ex-footballer Cantona aims for French presidency
Former French footballer Eric Cantona says he wants to run for president in the upcoming May election and has written to mayors in France asking them for the 500 signatures he needs to become an official candidate.
Cantona, who is a patron for the French organisation for the homeless, Fondation Abbe-Pierre, says he does not want to become president, but wants his campaign to highlight the plight of the homeless.
In his letter, published by the left-wing newspaper Libération, Cantona says it is his duty as a citizen to speak out at a time when the country is facing difficult and important decisions.
He says he chose housing as a campaign issue because it effects around 10 million people in France.
This figure was disputed by Junior Housing Minister Benoist Apparu in an interview on French television who said there are only 3.5 million poorly-housed people in France before admitting this number was already too large.
Prime Minister François Fillon, mayor of the city of Troyes, has already said he will not sign for Cantona but for current President Nicolas Sarkozy who has yet to announce his candidacy for the elections.
Cantona played for Manchester United from 1992 to 1997 and was known for both his genius and ill-discipline, as well as his often colourful and incomprehensible remarks.
Late in 2010 he entered the political and economic fray, urging compatriots to withdraw cash en masse as a way to bring banking to its knees - although it emerged that his actress wife had appeared in a TV bank advert.
Considered one of the greats of the game, Cantona retired from professional football in 1997 and has since turned to acting, notably in director Ken Loach's "Looking For Eric".