French federation head Le Graet quits amid harassment allegations

Paris, March 1 (BNA): Noël Le Graet has resigned as president of the French Football Federation following allegations of harassment and a government ministry review this month that concluded the 81-year-old no longer had the “necessary legitimacy” for the job. .

Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation since 2011, denied any wrongdoing and said on Tuesday he would remain in the sport, as FIFA offered him to lead its office in Paris.

Reuters reports that Le Graet has already resigned from some of his duties after a legal investigation was opened into allegations of sexual and moral harassment against him.

Earlier this month, an audit by the French Ministry of Sports concluded that Le Graet was no longer fit to manage and represent sport in France and “highlighted Mr Le Graet’s inappropriate behavior towards women”.

“Noel Le Graet … has announced before the FFF’s executive committee his decision to step down from his post,” the FFF said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Financial Comparison Fund criticized the department’s review, saying it was “based less on objective facts than on assessments”.

Le Graet, who last chaired his executive committee on Tuesday and whose mandate is set to expire in 2024, said he would challenge the audit’s findings through “all legal channels.”

“I have never harassed anyone before, morally or sexually,” he told French sports daily L’Equipe on Tuesday.

Le Graet said FIFA president Gianni Infantino had told him he could take charge of FIFA’s office in Paris.

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“I saw Gianni Infantino (on Monday) in Paris and he gave me the responsibility,” Le Graet was quoted as saying.

FIFA did not respond to a request from Reuters to clarify Le Graet’s role.

The FFF said Vice-President Philippe Diallo will act as its interim president until June 10, the date of the next Federal Assembly.

Diallo paid tribute to Le Graet after the executive committee meeting.

“It was a very important meeting for French football which began with an intervention by Mr. Le Graet, very generous, who, by the decision taken this morning, showed once again that he was one of the great leaders of French football,” he said. .

The allegations include accusations that Le Graet sent inappropriate messages late at night to female employees.

Le Graet was also criticized for extending the contract of men’s coach Didier Deschamps until 2026 and for making insulting comments targeting France star Zinedine Zidane.

French football has been in turmoil recently despite the national team reaching the World Cup final for the fourth time in the last seven editions of the tournament, losing to Argentina in Qatar last December.

The coach of the French women’s team, Corinne Diacre, has also come under fire and her future may be decided on March 9 by a select committee of the French Football Federation.

Team captain Wendy Rennard said last week that she will not play in the Women’s World Cup this year. According to a report in French multimedia outlet RMC Sport, Renard said she would not play for the national team as long as Diacre was in charge.

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Fellow internationals Marie Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diagne have also said they are falling behind on the national team.

“The Executive Committee has decided to entrust a small working group… with the task of studying this issue in depth and presenting its conclusions to the Executive Committee on March 9. We will see on March 9 if we are able to make a decision that will be taken quickly,” said Eric Borghini, a member of the Federation’s Executive Committee.

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