The outlet published the provocative illustration alongside a ‘Messi vs. Ronaldo’ poll for readers to vote for their favorite player. The idea of comparing the two football icons is not new, as their rivalry has been running for more than a decade, and they share 10 Ballon d’Or awards between them.
However, it was not the vote, but the front-page ‘kissing’ image that shocked fans, some of whom accused Football France of excessive attention seeking.
The controversial picture led some to compare the sports outlet with Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine which was the target of terrorist attacks over its irreverent publications.
“Making the buzz is the French trend, right? Charlie Hebdo, FranceFootbal…” a user commented under Football France’s Twitter post.
One person accused the outlet of stealing an image created by an Italian street artist who painted the kissing duo at a Barcelona bus stop in 2017.
Others demanded the picture be deleted, finding it offensive and disrespectful to the players’ families.
“It’s not that we’re shocked… but they have families; women and children and I find that it is a lack of respect towards them,” another person wrote.
“Out of respect for their wives it should be removed,” another comment reads.
“You have no respect for these two legends or their families,” one user added.
Some said the front-page picture totally “killed” Football France’s ‘best player’ poll.