Ten weeks before the World Cup in Qatar, the FFF is going through a troubled period. President Noël Le Graët, whose mandate runs until 2024, casts doubt on his future at the head of the institution after the World Cup.
The president of the FFF has suffered a lot of criticism since the release of the investigation by our colleagues from So Foot. He spoke on the phone informally last Friday with Amélie Oudéa-Castera at the request of the Minister of Sports who wanted in particular some clarification on the revelation of the sexist SMS quoted in the investigation and especially to hear the version of Noël Le Graët.
If nothing has leaked out and even if the Ministry refuses to confirm the interview, this article has sown disorder, reinforced the malaise that reigns on Boulevard de Grenelle and aroused the roar of a large part of the amateur world who felt, for many months, remote from the functioning and practices within the federation. This Friday, the Ministry of Sports wishes to go further by physically “inviting” the president of the FFF and its general manager Florence Hardouin, officially to discuss the World Cup in Qatar, the problems of supporterism but therefore also and above all the investigation. by SoFoot.
The rumor of a departure after the World Cup
For employees, nothing new. The publication of So Foot did not bring any revelations. “Only warmed up”, an employee confided to us. They already knew but said no words. During the staff seminar attended by NLG last Thursday in Clairefontaine, some commented on the content of the article and the president acted as if nothing had happened. A boss in fragile health. On Wednesday, September 7, he received the European U17 champions of last summer and in front of the staff and the players present, he congratulated them on several occasions for their title… World! This caused astonishment and a few smiles from those present. “A simple slip” they say to the FFF. During his speech last Saturday in Caen for the congress of the ANPDF (the association of district presidents), he lost his balance at the desk during his speech. “We had a man in front of us, a tired 80-year-old leader,” said one of the audience members.
Noël Le Graët, on this occasion, cast doubt on his future at the head of the FFF. The rumor in the middle of amateur and even professional football reports a possible resignation of the one who is nicknamed “the Breton Napoleon” during the federal assembly which was postponed on January 7 because of the World Cup in Qatar. . This gathering of district presidents was the moment chosen by “NLG” to slip in a sentence with barely hidden words: “If France wins the World Cup everyone will be happy. If it loses, it will be totally the opposite. It doesn’t matter the outcome, it can upset the future of the presidency of the FFF.
Some members of his entourage summarize the situation by saying: “if it smiles in Qatar, he will complete his mandate, if this is not the case, he will be weakened”. At the end of the General Assembly, all the district presidents did not fail to come back to this passage from Le Graët’s speech. “It felt like a confession rather than an official statement,” said one. For another “the message was clear, after the World Cup he will leave.” A third finally does not interpret it in the same way: “For me, he plays, he has fun with the situation, he throws a coin in the air and it works, people talk about it.”
It does not take more for his possible succession to emerge in the discussions. Because it is within the Executive Committee of the FFF that his successor would be appointed in the event of interim presidency until 2024, with two files to be managed quickly: the future of the coach of the Blues and that of the director general Florence Hardouin , highly criticized by employees and elected officials.
A name keeps coming back
The course of the French team in Qatar will obviously play a role in the final decision of Noël Le Graët, he keeps repeating it in private. For the time being, as a politician, he listens to what is said and in particular the “appetites” that this whets. On the other hand, there is no question of disturbing the preparation of the World Cup for the coach and the players, especially since it will not be easy with a tight schedule and many uncertainties linked to the players currently injured. What is certain is that he would see himself leaving his place with a third star.
Be that as it may, the negotiations have already begun and a name comes up with insistence. That of Philippe Diallo who comes from the professional world. Current president of COSMOS, an employers’ organization which represents employers and companies in the sport. He was the general manager of the UCPF, a former union of presidents of professional football clubs. A hard worker, well established in political circles, who has established himself as deputy vice-president since the departure of Brigitte Henriques from the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF). He is, above all, responsible for the finances of the institution. It is highly appreciated by both employees and amateur football managers. He could be a perfect link after Le Graët except that he was recently reframed by the president himself who blames him for a sudden ambition deemed clumsy.
Noël Le Graët’s favorite has always been Marc Keller. The president of Strasbourg is part of all the president’s projects. His only problem, but it is a big one, is that he is still in place at the head of the Alsatian club. He would have to sell the club. It almost happened last spring but for now he can’t disengage, which complicates things. Former professional and international player, Marc Keller has the ideal profile, Noël Le Graët is convinced. Other suitors could emerge within the Executive Committee like Jamel Sandjak for example. The former president of the powerful Ligue de Paris IDF has the advantage of benefiting from the amateur world. He constantly discusses via a WhatsApp group with the presidents of Leagues in France. For the moment, he observes and remains very close to Noël Le Graët having understood that the man is tired and that we must not forget what he has brought to the amateur world. Anyway, the future president will have to be comfortable on the priority site post World Cup: the position of coach.
Deschamps attentive observer
There are two options: either enter into negotiations with Didier Deschamps for an extension or search for his successor with Zinedine Zidane as the No.1 favourite. The current boss of the Blues is following the evolution of the situation very closely, even if his priority is to prepare as calmly and as professionally as possible for the World Cup. His concern at the moment lies mainly in the state of health of his executives, many of whom are injured (Pogba, Kanté, Benzema).
Despite the questions of the summer of 2021 following the failure of the Euro, Deschamps remained very close to Le Graët. If the latter were to “drop the case”, this would bring an additional element to his thinking. The World Cup will in any case be decisive for the future of French football, at the dawn of an end of cycle which worries the amateur world impatient to see the federal institution evolve towards a more modern governance where it would feel better. represented.