France awaits Eric Cantona’s cashpoint bank revolution

The government has criticised the ex-footballer’s call for the public to stage a mass cash-withdrawal protest

Eric Cantona calls for mass bank withdrawals to protest

Angelique Chrisafis

France is bracing for Eric Cantona’s bank-run revolution Tuesday, with the government criticising his call for the public to stage a mass cash-withdrawal and the left questioning whether it would have much effect.

When the former Manchester United footballer gave a video interview in October calling on citizens to stage a cash-point revolution, protest groups against the financial system decided to coordinate a world-wide withdrawal on December 7, the number of Cantona’s lucky shirt.

Asked about street demonstrations to protest against government austerity measures, Cantona said: “We have to change the way we do things nowadays. Talking of revolution, I don’t mean we are going to pick up guns and go out to kill people. Revolution is very simple to do nowadays,” he told the French paper Presse Ocean.

“What’s the system? The system revolves around banks. The system is built on the banks’ power. So it can be destroyed by the banks. Instead of having three million people going out to demonstrate with a placard, those three million people go to their bank branch, they withdraw their money and the banks crumble.” He directed people: “You go to your bank in your village and you withdraw your money.” But as tens of thousands of people signed up to the online campaigns led by a Franco-Belgian anti-bank protest group, the French government warned against “Eric Le Rouge” sticking his nose into economics.

Francois Baroin, the budget minister, said: “It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.” FCantona’s call to arms was “grotesque” and “not serious”. inance minister Christine Lagarde said witheringly: “There are those who play football magnificently, I wouldn’t dare to try. I think it’s best for everyone to stick to their own speciality.” The director general of BNP Paribas deemed Cantona’s appeal “ill-founded”.

Cantona told the daily Liberation that he would heed his own call to withdraw money. “Given the strange solidarity that has sprung up, yes. On December 7, I’ll be at the bank.” Online supporters have pledged that they will either definitely or probably withdraw cash. They are aiming for a bank-run like that which hit the UK’s Northern Rock in 2008.

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