SIGA champion Louis Saha invites Cristiano Ronaldo to join the fight for sport integrity
The former Manchester United and France star spoke to AS to talk about his former club, the Portuguese player and what it means to be a SIGA ambassador.
Louis Saha (Paris, 1978) played 120 games for Manchester United from 2004 to 2008, as well as having spells at Metz, Fulham and Everton among other clubs. He also represented his country, France, on 20 occasions. He’s currently an ambassador for SIGA, the Sport Integrity Global Alliance, which fights for integrity in sport world-wide, promotes good governance and independent, universal, global standards.
Saha spoke to the media, including AS, an official media partner of SIGA, about his mission to promote sport integrity and touched on a few other matters along the way.
How are things going with SIGA, Louis?
I’m happy. It’s an honour that SIGA had me in mind to help with integrity and to change things in sport. It’s a cause I’m passionate about, and already was back in my playing days, and I like promoting this change in the search for sporting values.
What’s the goal?
To promote education, good behaviour, integrity and values in sport. We need to be together, the athletes, if we want to achieve things. Helping each other. It’s vital to change the mentality. I like watching Cristiano Ronaldo scoring goals, but I’m investing a lot of time in making integrity a reality.
You mention Cristiano Ronaldo, what do you think about his return to United?
That made me happy. He always scores goals, but what’s more is that he has the culture of self-sacrifice completely ingrained. He’s the most influential person in the world. Not just about football, but about family, nutrition… For example, his healthy lifestyle is an inspiration to people.
You played with him…
Yes, we had a really easygoing relationship. On a personal level he always gave you a smile, he was a friendly, respectful guy. It was a pleasure to be his teammate. Sometimes you had the feeling it was impossible to defend against him. He was everywhere and always wanted more. He’s a machine. I was older than him… but when you were next to him, you thought you were the youngster. I remember a time when I wasn’t getting to play much at United. He came up to me and said: “Louis, smile. You need to play smiling.” He was a lad, but he gave me some great advice.
Which current player would you like to be if you could?
Him, Cristiano. No doubt.
You’re French, tell me about Benzema.
He’s an absolutely fantastic player. I don’t think there’s any other forward who, when they’re inspired, make it so easy for the players around them to play. It’s the same with France, when he went back to the national team. I’m supporting him in his campaign for the Ballon d’Or, it wouldn’t be a shock if he were to win it. But nor would it be if it were Salah, for example. I rate both of them for it.
And Varane? Why is he struggling to adapt to United?
He needs to show the confidence for which they signed him. He’s had a couple of injuries, though not bad ones. United need Varane on form, he’s one of the best defenders in the world.
One player there are no doubts about is Bruno Fernandes…
Yes, there are very few players who can do what he does: as a midfielder scoring so many goals of the kind strikers score. Now he’s got a different job to do and he needs to put in a bit more of a shift in defence, since Cristiano arrived. He was a great signing, in any event, one of United’s best in recent years.
What do you think about the Saudi fund getting involved at Newcastle?
It’s more and more standard for the money to come from outside football. As of the 90s, millionaires started getting involved in clubs. They’re different markets and have their own peculiarities. Other football cultures, such as Asian [football culture, should be respected. At the fan level, there’s no doubt any fan would love a millionaire to come into their club and buy the best players. That’s obvious.