Ten weeks before the World Cup in Qatar, the FFF is going through a turbulent time. President Noël Le Graët, whose mandate runs until 2024, doubts his future at the head of the institution after the World Cup.
The FFF president has suffered a lot of criticism since the release of the investigation by our colleagues from So Foot. He spoke on the phone informally on Friday with Amélie Oudéa-Castera at the request of the Minister of Sports who wanted in particular some explanation of the revelation of the sexist SMS cited in the investigation and in particular to hear the version of Noël Le Graët.
If nothing leaked and even if the Ministry refused to confirm the interview, this article sowed confusion, strengthened the malaise that reigned on the Boulevard de Grenelle and provoked the roar of a large part of the amateur world who felt, for many months, far from the functions and practices within the federation. This Friday, the Ministry of Sports wants to go further by physically “inviting” the president of the FFF and its general manager Florence Hardouin, to officially discuss the World Cup in Qatar, the problems of supporterism but therefore also and above all the investigation. by SoFoot.
The rumor of leaving after the World Cup
For employees, there is nothing new. The publication of So Foot does not carry any revelations. “It’s just getting hot”, an employee confided to us. They already knew but said nothing. During the staff seminar attended by NLG last Thursday in Clairefontaine, someone commented on the content of the article and the president acted as if nothing had happened. A boss of weak health. On Wednesday, September 7, he received the European U17 champion last summer and in front of the staff and the players present, he congratulated them on several occasions for their title… World! This elicited surprise and a few smiles from the audience. “A simple slip” they say in FFF. During his speech last Saturday in Caen for the ANPDF congress (the association of district presidents), he lost his balance on the table during his speech. “There is a man in front of us, a tired 80-year-old leader,” said one of those present.
Noël Le Graët, on this occasion, doubts his future at the head of the FFF. The gossip between amateur and even professional football reports a possible resignation of the one nicknamed “Breton Napoleon” during the federal assembly postponed on January 7 because of the World Cup in Qatar. . This gathering of district presidents is the moment chosen by the “NLG” to break through a phrase with barely any hidden words: “If France wins the World Cup everyone will be happy. If it lose, it’s totally the opposite. It doesn’t matter the result, it will disturb the future of FFF leadership.
Some members of his entourage summed up the situation by saying: “if Qatar smiles, he will complete his mandate, if not, he will be weak”. At the end of the General Assembly, all the district presidents did not fail to return this passage from Le Graët’s speech. “It felt more like a confession than an official statement,” said one. For another “the message is clear, after the World Cup he will leave.” The third finally does not interpret it in the same way: “For me, he plays, he enjoys the situation, he throws a coin in the air and it works, people talk about it.”
It won’t take much more for his possible replacement to emerge in discussions. Because it is within the Executive Committee of the FFF that his successor will be appointed if there is an interim presidency until 2024, with two files to manage immediately: the future of the coach of the Blues and the director general Florence Hardouin , criticized treatment of employees and elected officials.
One name keeps coming back
The run of the French team in Qatar apparently played a role in Noël Le Graët’s final decision, he reiterated privately. Currently, as a politician, he listens to what is said and especially to the “appetites” it arouses. On the other hand, there is no question that will disturb the preparation of the World Cup for the coach and the players, especially since it will not be easy with the tight schedule and many uncertainties related to the players who are currently injured. What is certain is that he will see himself leaving his place with the third star.
However, negotiations have begun and a name is emerging with insistence. That’s Philippe Diallo who comes from the professional world. Current president of COSMOS, an organization of owners representing employers and companies in the game. He is the general manager of the UCPF, formerly the union of presidents of professional football clubs. A hard worker, well established in political circles, who 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 employees and amateur football managers. He would be a perfect successor after Le Graët except that he was recently reframed by the president himself who blamed him for a sudden ambition that was considered clumsy.
Noël Le Graët’s favorite was Marc Keller. The president of Strasbourg is part of all the projects of the president. His only problem, but it is a big one, is that he is still in the place of the head of the Alsatian club. He had to sell the club. It almost happened last spring but right now he can’t separate, which complicates things. Former professional and international player, Marc Keller has an ideal profile, Noël Le Graët is convinced. Other suitors may appear within the Executive Committee such as Jamel Sandjak for example. The former president of the powerful Ligue de Paris IDF has the advantage of benefiting from the amateur world. He often talks through a WhatsApp group with the presidents of the French League. Currently, he observes and remains very close to Noël Le Graët who understands that people are tired and that we should not forget what he brought to the amateur world. However, the incoming president must be comfortable in the priority site after the World Cup: the position of coach.
Deschamps attentive observer
There are two options: either enter into negotiations with Didier Deschamps for an extension or look for his successor in Zinedine Zidane as the No.1 favorite. The current Blues boss is closely following the evolution of the situation, although his priority is to prepare calmly and as professionally as possible for the World Cup. His concern at the moment is mainly the state of health of his executives, most of whom are injured (Pogba, Kanté, Benzema).
Despite the questions in the summer of 2021 after the Euro failure, Deschamps remains very close to Le Graët. If the latter “drops the case”, it will bring an additional element to his thinking. The World Cup in any case will be decisive for the future of French football, at the dawn of the end of the cycle that worries the amateur world impatient to see the federal institution change towards a more modern management where feels better.