Kylian Mbappe asked to refuse France’s highest accolade

A French mayor has urged the country’s young World Cup winners Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez not to accept the Legion of Honor, the country’s highest accolade.

As members of France’s World Cup-winning team the trio are set to be honored by France’s government, along with the rest of the squad and its coach, Didier Deschamps, for “exceptional service” to the nation.

Following France’s 4-2 win over Croatia in July’s World Cup final in Moscow, the office of President Emmanuel Macron announced the squad would be recognized at a ceremony at the Elysee Palace, though no date has yet been set.

But Jean-Paul Pretot, the mayor of Loulans-Verchamp (Haute-Saone), a small village in eastern France with a population of 488, has called on some of the youngest members of the team to refuse their award in memory of those who died in battle during the World War I but were not honored.

In a letter to the French Football Federation (FFF), Pretot wrote: “On behalf of all those fighters who spent their best years fighting for our freedom, I ask you to refuse the Legion of Honor promised to you and … to pay virtual homage to all those anonymous heroes who fought for our country.”

With Nov. 11 marking 100 years since the end of World War I, Pretot added that for Mbappe, 19, Pavard, 22, and Hernandez, 22, to receive the award “seemed almost indecent a few weeks from November 11.”

The letter continued: “If just one of you accepted this approach as part of the duty to remember, it would have as much impact on young people as the November 11 commemorations.”

Pretot told CNN that there weren’t any families in his village that had not been impacted by the 1914-18 Great War and that he’d chosen France’s three young players for their maturity and because “they are young people who really have their head on their shoulders.”

“I could have contacted the whole team but I wanted it to just be these spokesmen,” he said, adding that he wanted to use the players’ popularity to mark the centenary of the armistice.

“If Mbappe, for example, said ‘I refuse this Legion of Honor to mark the occasion [of the armistice centenary] … it would have more impact than the President of the Republic going up the Champs-Elysees.”

Pretot, who said “tears and beers flowed freely” in his home as he cheered Les Bleus during Russia 2018, admitted that the players “deserve” their honor, but could not be called “heroes.”

“A hero,” he said “is someone who risked their life and had no choice.”

CNN contacted the players’ agents and the French Football Federation but, as yet, have had no response.

In July, striker Olivier Giroud told French TV BFMTV that the award was an honor, but admitted that those who had fought in conflicts were more deserved recipients.

“It is lucky and a privilege of course, an honor, as we say. I personally think that soldiers of war deserve it much more than us but, voila, it is how it is,” the Chelsea striker said.

“When you have the luck of being the world champions, you benefit from certain advantages, and this is a part of that. So I will accept it with pleasure.”