Laure Boulleau’s numbers speak for themselves. The French left-back has spent 11 seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, won 65 caps for France, played in a UEFA Women’s Champions League Final and taken part in two FIFA Women’s World Cups™. With such impressive statistics, she could be forgiven for taking it easy away from the field of play, yet Laure Boulleau is also a social media star in France. One of the most popular figures in the world of football, she has amassed over 800,000 followers across her various accounts.
From videos of training to amusing posts, from selfies with her team-mates to more intimate photos, the left-back is constantly giving fans an insight into her daily life. *FIFA.com *wanted to find out more about her use of social media. Does she have a communication strategy? Is she aware of the impact it all has on her fans? Laure reveals all to us in this exclusive interview
FIFA.com: Laure, you have 200,000 followers on Twitter, 484,000 fans on Facebook and 147,000 on Instagram. That’s more than some Ligue 1 clubs like Rennes or Nice, and more than players like Kurt Zouma, Jeremy Mathieu, Maxwell or Philipp Lahm. Are you aware of your influence on the social networks? Laure Boulleau: Wow, Philipp Lahm? That’s amazing! (laughs) No, I don’t think it really sinks in. To be honest, I don’t pay much attention to the numbers of followers and statistics. But I know that I’ve got a big community behind me, and I’m proud of it. I enjoy sharing my life with others. I receive a lot of support, a lot of funny comments – things that I really like. I don’t particularly realise what impact it all has, but I guess it can only be positive for women’s sport.
You’re the top non-American on Twitter, and ninth overall behind Alex *Morgan, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Heather O'Reilly, Christie Rampone and Ali Krieger. Given your popularity on the social networks, do you feel like one of the main ambassadors for women’s football? *When I hear things like that, yes, I see what you mean. But I’m not going to start changing the way I communicate. I’ve been doing it the same way from the beginning. I just try to be myself as much as possible and to pass on things that I care about, that reflect how I’m feeling or what we’re experiencing as a team. I think it’s a positive thing. I’m quite proud of it, although it’s not a big deal for me whether I’m in the top ten or not!
*Have you developed a particular strategy on social media, or do you just post/tweet whenever you feel like it? *Not at all, I just try to keep it natural. Sometimes you get requests from sponsors, and those messages are a bit more prescribed. But I’ve always said to them that, whatever the message, I’m going to give it my own slant. I don’t want to just post whatever they tell me.
Does your activity on social media change at all during competitions? Are you still totally free, or do the coaches give you instructions?
Yeah that can happen, and not just during the tournaments. You have to be careful not to be too opinionated. And during the World Cup, you can’t reveal too much about what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s like that in life in general: everything in moderation. You mustn’t go over the top. But there are no strict rules, we just get advice from the community managers who tell us to be careful, because social networks are great but they can also be dangerous.
*What sort of a relationship do you have with your fans? *I’m not someone who replies to people individually. The way I see it, if I reply to one person, I would have to reply to everyone and I just don’t have the time for that. Having said that, I read a lot of them, particularly the messages of support. I really like it when I’m sent a photo that I’ve taken with a little girl. That’s the sort of thing I really enjoy. When I see people having fun after matches, or see people celebrating. There’s less upbeat stuff too, but I only give my time over to important matters.
*Would you swap your popularity on social media for a winner’s medal with the French team? *Of course! I’d be happy with two followers (laughs).
Speaking of your followers, here are some questions from your fans on Twitter and Facebook:
*@MarionRheaDV: If you could play for any team in the USA, which would it be?
*I’d like to play for the club that Lindsey [Horan] and Tobin [Heath] play for, Portland Thorns. It’s one of the biggest clubs and, above all, two of my friends play there. I got on really well with both of them when they were here. I miss them loads.
*@USWNT23: Who is the most dangerous forward you’ve ever played against? *
There are plenty to choose from! Alex Morgan, to start with. And I’m lucky enough to be French, but I wouldn’t be thrilled by the idea of going up against Eugenie Le Sommer (laughs). And there was a forward for Germany, who retired but who was really good. She’s very slim, very tall. I can’t remember her name… wait, it’s coming… it begins with a G… Kerstin Garefrekes! I played against her at the World Cup. She doesn’t look anything special, but she plays with a lot of intelligence.
*@Da1Nonly22: *What do you think about the #EqualPay campaign led by the USA national team’s players?
I think they’re absolutely right. You have to bear in mind that over there soccer is principally a women’s sport, rather than a men’s one. And then men’s football arrived and straight away they were better paid than the women. The old inequalities quickly resurface. In Europe, it makes more sense: men’s football has been around for years, there’s a lot of money in it, a lot of people go to the matches. The financial aspect is much greater. But I don’t think that’s the case in the USA. Over there, it’s the women who have led the way and won titles for their federation. I’m 100 per cent behind them.
*Damien Geens (Facebook): **Is mixed football a possibility? What hurdles would we need to overcome to develop it as a sport? *
For me, it’s not possible. For a start, genetically speaking, I’m against ideas of this kind. We’re built completely differently. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but the quickest player in the women’s game wouldn’t be particularly quick in the men’s sport. In terms of muscles too, we’re just too different to play together. And athleticism is important in sport. I don’t know whether mixed sports really exist. In tennis? But for us, given the size of the pitch, all the running, the contact, it’s like having women and men playing in the same rugby match - totally inconceivable. But mixed head tennis, that is a good idea.
*Dume JP Ottavi (Facebook): **What do you plan to do when you retire from football? Will you stay in sport?
* I’m not sure yet. I studied to be a physio but I’m not sure whether I want to pursue that later on, although the studies were really good for my career, for my mind. It’s always good to get the brain cells working. But I think I’m either going to stay in sport, or maybe go down the media route. Or maybe both…