France’s Legright steps down but lands on his feet with FIFA

France's Legright steps down but lands on his feet with FIFA

Noel Le Graet, the embattled president of France’s football federation, resigned on Tuesday, ending a long tenure for an executive whose grip on power – aided by powerful friendships – has suffered through on-field triumphs and off-field scandals. .

Battered by accusations of misconduct and mismanagement Le Grat finally bowed to mounting calls for his sacking at a private meeting of the French Federation Council Widely known by his three-letter acronym FFF His announcement came two weeks after a final audit of the organization revealed years of conduct Indecent even as France has produced some of its best national teams, sending its men’s team to back-to-back World Cup finals and hosting the Women’s World Cup on home soil in 2019.

The review was commissioned by France’s sports minister amid mounting reports of personal misconduct by Le Graët, including inappropriate late-night texting to female staff. The sports minister, Amelie Odea Castera, had publicly called for Le Graet’s resignation in January. On Tuesday, she hailed what she called “the right decision for and for FFF.”

But even as he quit the federation under pressure, his place in football seemed secure: FIFA appointed Le Graet last year to oversee its new office in Paris, and several of his federation colleagues on Tuesday offered him congratulations on the role. .

Concerns about Le Grat’s continued presence in the presidency, which he has held since 2011, have only grown because he has stirred up a series of controversies while the investigation continues. Late last year, he infuriated French government officials ahead of the World Cup by downplaying the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar. After the tournament, he made disparaging remarks about Zinedine Zidane, a World Cup winner who is considered one of the best players France has ever produced. Le Grat later retracted his remarks and I apologize to Zidane.

However, the 81-year-old Le Graët has retained many allies despite the turmoil, including Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, who is said to have lobbied on his behalf as his ouster nears. Infantino last year His name is Le Graët As Presidential Delegate to oversee FIFA’s new office in Paris, an outpost he has taken on increasingly important roles once the exclusive preserve of staff at FIFA’s headquarters in Switzerland.

Eric Borghini, a FFF board member who attended Tuesday’s meeting, suggested Le Graet would continue in the role. However, it is unclear whether Le Graët will continue his efforts to retain his seat on FIFA’s governing body, the FIFA Council, in an election in April.

Philippe Diallo, Vice-President of the Federation, will serve as Interim President of the FFF until June 10, 2023, the date of its next General Assembly.

Far from lashing out at Le Grat, his former colleagues rallied around the now-former president. “Everywhere he went, the institutions and clubs he led were successful,” said Diallo.

He sought the official union statement announcing his exit to celebrate French football successes under Le Great, noting that under his guidance, France’s men’s and women’s teams have won 11 titles and played in six international finals. The statement also referred to infrastructure developments and the economic health of the union.

He did not mention the turmoil surrounding the federation since the success of the men’s team at the 2018 World Cup in France, including allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Some of these issues have become so toxic that several senior employees have complained about the workplace environment, a crisis that in 2020 forced Lou Graet to call in an outside expert who specializes in repairing damaged workplaces.

These efforts failed to produce results beyond preserving the positions of Le Graet and his second-in-command, Florence Hardwin. Hardouin is negotiating her departure from the union after a government-sponsored investigation accused her of using “brutal methods and wrong behaviour”. Her legal team has since suggested that she acted as a whistleblower in the lawsuits against Le Graët.

The federation sought to protect itself in the aftermath of his resignation, claiming that the investigation had failed to uncover any systemic failure or any failure to perform its primary mission. “However, the FFF notes that this report is based not so much on objective facts as on assessments that have sometimes led to disproportionate mutilation of the body,” the report said.

Meanwhile, current and former officials continued to insist that removing Le Graet would not be enough to fix the union’s problems.

“The point is not Lou Graet and Hardouin,” said Pierre Samsonov, former head of the federation’s amateur football department. “What is important is the way the institution is governed.”

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