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Chirac impersonator dupes France

Joe Concacaf

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Chirac impersonator dupes France

Posted: Thursday September 8, 2005 1:35PM; Updated: Thursday September 8, 2005 1:35PM

PARIS (AP) -- An impersonator pretending to be President Jacques Chirac asked France's national soccer players to put their hands over their hearts during the national anthem before a World Cup qualifying match at Ireland.

Gerald Dahan spoke by telephone with captain Zinedine Zidane and coach Raymond Domenech before Wednesday's match in Dublin, and then broadcast the conversations on his radio show, "Live from Planet Plukon."

Pretending to be Chirac, who is currently hospitalized, Dahan asked Zidane: "Can I ask you a favor?"

"Yes, of course," the Real Madrid star replied.

"You would give me great pleasure if you could put your hand over your heart during La Marseillaise," Dahan said, sounding like a tired Chirac.

"We'll do it, we'll do it," Zidane said.

France won the match 1-0 and is in second place in Group 4 with 16 points, trailing Switzerland on goal difference.

Chirac, 72, was admitted to a Paris military hospital on Friday for what officials described as "a small vascular accident" that affected his vision in one eye.

Domenech acknowledged that the team was fooled, but also spoke with pride about his players' display of solidarity for Chirac.

"I find it almost sad that it happened the way it did because it was a great moment from the France team," Domenech said Thursday. "After that, one must accept that we were trapped by someone who thought it was funny."

The presidential Elysee Palace had no immediate comment.

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