French President Emmanuel Macron controls the ball as he participates...

French President Emmanuel Macron controls the ball as he participates in the Varietes Club charity football match to benefit children in hospital, at the Bernard Giroux stadium in Plaisir, outside Paris, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. Credit: AP/Benoit Tessier

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron showed off his sporting prowess again Wednesday, this time as Paris gears up to hold the Summer Olympics.

Macron, a well-known soccer fan, donned a jersey for a charity match alongside soccer legends and celebrity players at a club in Yvelines, west of Paris. The event, which raises money for a children's health charity chaired by first lady Brigitte Macron, featured a lineup including former World Cup winners Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps.

Since being elected in 2017, the 46-year-old has seized multiple opportunities to demonstrate his athletic skills — and physique — in what observers view as a photo-friendly way to brandish a dynamic image as modern France’s youngest-ever president.

Earlier this year, photos of Macron pounding a punching bag went viral on social media in what was widely perceived as the latest round in his drive to toughen up Europe’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Macron has also promised to take a dip in the Seine's recently revitalized fresh waters, which will be used for Olympic contests on several days during the Games.

On Wednesday, the French president took to the field as a midfielder, playing alongside 1998 World Cup champions and football icons such as Didier Drogba and Eden Hazard. The match also saw participation from other notable personalities like MMA fighter Cyril Gane and former German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

Not exactly new to the football scene, Macron has previously participated in a charity match, notably scoring from the penalty spot in a game against health care workers three years ago.

French President Emmanuel Macron,left, participates in the Varietes Club charity...

French President Emmanuel Macron,left, participates in the Varietes Club charity football match to benefit children in hospital, at the Bernard Giroux stadium in Plaisir, outside Paris, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. Credit: AP/Benoit Tessier

Post-match, all participants in Wednesday's game were invited to the presidential Elysee Palace, highlighting the social stature of the event amid the buildup to the Games.

This charity match underlines Macron’s ongoing engagement with sports as a means of promoting both charitable causes and national spirit ahead of the significant international spectacle of the Olympics set to take place in Paris July 26 to Aug. 11.

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