Noël Le Graët presents his resignation from the FFF and is appointed director of the FIFA office in Paris

Cyrille de la Morinerie with AFP
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2:27 p.m., February 28, 2023

Weakened for several months, the president of the French Football Federation (FFF) Noël Le Graët announced his resignation to his executive committee on Tuesday, after eleven years in office. “A courageous decision”, according to Philippe Diallo, the vice-president who will act as interim head of the body until the Federal Assembly in June. Several internal sources would even see him extend his interim beyond.

But barely left, Noël Le Graët was appointed director of the Paris office of Fifa, announced Éric Borghini, one of the members of the Comex.

Noël Le Graët made “the right decision for the FFF and for himself”, says the Minister of Sports

Noël Le Graët made “the right decision for the FFF and for himself”, reacted Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra on Tuesday in a statement to AFP. “I have confidence in the future of 3F, in the quality of its teams and in the ability of its authorities to draw lessons from recent months to emerge stronger, in the service of French football,” he said. she added at the end of this standoff of several months with Noël Le Graët.

The “Menhir” of French football released from all sides

At the headquarters of “3F”, a large page of French football is turning with the departure of the 81-year-old businessman, overtaken by accusations of moral and sexual harassment, an overwhelming audit mission and several slippages. Still as unpredictable and unfathomable, the “Menhir” of French football was slow to let go, 13 days after the communication of an audit report commissioned by the Ministry of Sports. But the conclusions of the General Inspectorate for Education, Sport and Research (IGESR) left no room for maneuver to the Breton, released for months by the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra for whom “the status quo (was) impossible”.

According to the inspectors, Le Graët “no longer has the necessary legitimacy to administer and represent French football”, taking into account in particular his “inappropriate behavior (…) vis-à-vis women”. “NLG” has also been targeted since mid-January by an investigation for moral and sexual harassment.

At the Paris headquarters of the FFF, which he had headed since 2011, Noël Le Graët warned his executive committee of his resignation, we learned from a member of this decisive “Comex” for the future of French football. Around the table, the members of this federal “government” paid him “a tribute”, according to the same source. The “Comex” expected to see its president give up his place on his own, after several months of turbulence around the leader.

The former mayor of Guingamp had to face the facts

A little doubt remained, however, as the Breton entrepreneur had put his heart into denying all the accusations of harassment, denouncing a “biased” audit mission.

The former mayor of Guingamp has nevertheless had to face the facts: his “Comex”, once so loyal, no longer supports him, even if many members have continued to insist in recent days on the action of the leader in his first years of mandate, marked by the financial recovery of the “3F” after the scandal of the Mondial-2010 in South Africa. “He is a great leader, the federation is one of the best managed federations. I think that we will have to make an overall assessment once you have all the elements”, underlined Jean-Michel Aulas, influential member of the Committee and president of Lyon, a few minutes before the meeting on Tuesday.

Corinne Deacon weakened

The reconstruction of the FFF can now open, and it will undoubtedly be restless. The president of the League of Paris-Île-de-France, Jamel Sandjak, has already thrown the blur by resigning in recent days from the executive committee. Many lend him presidential ambitions and recall that a General Assembly can, statutorily, be convened by a quarter of its members, made up of delegates from local clubs, leagues and districts. This hypothesis could lead to the dismissal of the Comex.

At the heart of these debates on Tuesday, the staff of the “Fédé” also had to position itself on a very inflammable case, that of the French women’s team and its coach Corinne Deacon, weakened after the withdrawal of its three star players Wendie Renard, Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto, who criticize its management.

Five months before the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand (July 20 – August 20), the crisis is insoluble. Proving the players right by dismissing Deacon would amount to giving them power, a dangerous case law. But inaction in the face of an unprecedented sling would undoubtedly destroy the chances of a title in Oceania… Mr. Aulas, responsible for women’s football at the “Comex”, has in any case chosen his side. “It seems difficult to me objectively to fight against” the opinion of the players, he explains to The Team. Will the “Comex” follow this advice? A working group, of which Jean-Michel Aulas is a member, has been appointed on the subject. A decision will be made within the next ten days. According to information from The Teamthe decision is expected to be made on March 9.

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