As probably the most-admired Frenchman in English history, there’s a nice symbolism in Eric Cantona planning to swim the Channel, the narrow body of water that separates the two countries.
The 49-year-old retired from soccer and became an actor 18 years ago, so it’s reasonable to wonder if he’ll have the stamina to achieve the 21-mile feat, which has been managed by fewer than 2,000 people. Some have died trying.
Presumably Cantona will be fine, because it’s all a publicity stunt for Kronenbourg beer. In a commercial, Cantona says he’ll do the swim if 10,000 people agree “that Kronenbourg is the supreme tasting beer in the world.” Because there’s nothing that helps athletes prepare better for a daunting physical challenge than drinking beer.
Obviously, these 10,000 people would be liars, because French beer is about as good as English wine … though Kronenbourg isn’t actually very French. Last year another Cantona-Kronenbourg ad was banned for being misleading because it’s actually brewed by a Dutch company in Manchester. It makes Cantona the ideal spokesman, even though he appeared to be drinking Brooklyn Lager when he was arrested for assault outside a London pub last year. Maybe he developed a liking for the taste when he was director of soccer for the New York Cosmos?
Cantona spent only five years in England, playing for Leeds United and Manchester United, and was banned for nine months in 1995 for kung-fu kicking a Crystal Palace fan who allegedly shouted “Fuck off back to France, you French motherfucker” at him during a game. That claim to fame has made him advertisers’ go-to guy when they want to sell things to ze English with ze charming French accent and ze weirdness, non?