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Noël Le Graët suspended as FFF President

The FFF Executive Committee have announced the Noël Le Graët will step back following his criticism of Zinedine Zidane and allegations of sexual harassment.

París (Francia)
The FFF Executive Committee have announced the Noël Le Graët will step back following his criticism of Zinedine Zidane and allegations of sexual harassment.

C’est fini for Noël Le Graët. At least for now. A French Football Federation statement has confirmed that the president of the FFF will step back from his post, at least until the conclusion of an internal audit, which began on Tuesday, looking into allegations of sexual harassment that took place during his time as president. Vice-president Philippe Diallo will take over as interim president until the finding of the audit are revealed.

FFF statement on Noël Le Graët’s suspension

The FFF’s statement reads as follows:

“Noël Le Graët, in agreement with the FFF Executive Committee, who met today in Paris, has opted to withdraw from his functions as President of the Federation until the audit carried out by the Minister of Sport is concluded and its findings are assessed by the FFF Executive Committee.

“The FFF Executive Committee has also taken the decision to suspend Florence Hardouin, FFF general director, as a precautionary measure.

“As of today, Philippe Diallo, deputy vice-president of the FFF, will fill both roles on an interim basis.

“Lastly, the FFF Executive Committee has unanimously approved the terms of Didier Deschamps’ contract extension until 2026 as the head coach of the French national team.”

Kylian Mbappé: “Zidane is France, you can’t disrespect a legend like that”.

Didier Deschamps contract and allegations of sexual harassment also discussed

RMC Sport reports that it was Le Graët himself who called a meeting with members of the Executive Committee at 11am on Wednesday morning in order to discuss whether he should continue in his position following his controversial recent outbursts in the media. The committee, including Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas and Vincent Labrune, head of the LFP (Ligue de Football Professionnel), opted to suspend Le Graët as a result of his disrespectful comments towards Zinedine Zidane, which caused a furious backlash in France. The committee went on to discuss the length of Deschamps’ contract renewal, which had been decided unilaterally by the president, and agent Sonia Souid’s allegations of being sexually harassed by Le Graët while she was employed by the federation.

The committee ruled that, aside from facing possible legal action, Le Graët would step back from his role as FFF President with immediate effect, two years before his term was due to finish. On Saturday morning, the 81-year-old had taken the decision, without consulting the board, to renew Deschamps’ contract until 2026, by which time he may no longer be in his role.

What have the French Government said about Noël Le Graët?

Hours before his suspension was announced, Olivier Véran, a spokesperson for the French Government, had criticised Le Graët for his recent behaviour and insisted that the figure of FFF President was key in projecting a positive image of French soccer around the world. Minister for Sport Amélie Oudéa-Castéra had called for Le Graët to resign earlier this week and the French government is not expected to intervene with the action taken by the FFF Executive Committee. Whether the scandal within the federation will affect the national team, whose next international break comes in March, remains to be seen.

Le Graët’s suspension was not the only one officially announced by the French Football Federation, with general director Hardouin, who openly criticised the president’s comments on Zidane but endured a tense relationship with the body’s president, also set to step back until the internal audit is concluded.