8:34 p.m., January 11, 2023
The executive committee of the French Football Federationmeeting this Wednesday, decided the withdrawal of Noël Le Graët until the publication of the results of the audit requested and carried out by the ministry of sports and whose conclusions should be submitted at the end of January to the FFF. The body will then have two weeks to comment on them. Several facts are alleged against the President of the French Football Federation. Noël Le Graët is suspected of having sent text messages of a sexual nature to several women. The operation and management methods within the Federation are also the subject of in-depth investigation.
This audit follows the publication of a survey carried out by the magazine SoFoot last September. According to the media specializing in football, the former mayor of Guingamp would have sent sexual SMS to employees as well as former employees of the institution. Allegations that the leader denies as a whole but which are however the subject of part of the investigations carried out in the audit launched since by the Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castera.
“If we were closer…”
But since the latest controversial release from Noël Le Graët on Zinedine Zidane and the convening of a General Assembly of the “Comex” of the FFF, tongues seem to be loosening. Thus, Sonia Souid, players’ agent, decided to speak on Monday evening, mentioning in particular an appointment she had had with Noël Le Graët.
“During this meeting, he told me quite clearly that if we were closer, my ideas would materialize. In any case, he would be much more motivated to help me in this direction”, she told on BFM-TV. “I think he is very seductive”, continued the agent, who ended up concluding: “We have the impression that he is the king and that the FFF is his kingdom”. As soon as this testimony was broadcast, the Minister of Sports hastened to react on her personal Twitter account.
Congratulations Sonia Souid for the courage of your testimony.
Our audit will be worthy of it.
See you soon. https://t.co/01C4lU7eP2
— Amelie Oudea-Castera (@AOC1978) January 10, 2023
A management that leaves something to be desired
This testimony is therefore added to the others previously collected by our colleagues from Radio France, who claim to have received several testimonies from women accusing Noël Le Graët of having made comments of a sexual nature or of having sent inappropriate messages. Although the latter are not under judicial investigation, they question the intentions of the president of the FFF and his use of power within the institution.
Another major point that constitutes this audit: the remarks made by President Le Graët concerning the living conditions of workers on the construction sites of the World Cup stadiums in Qatar. In the program Complément d’Enquête on France 2, he had refuted the unsanitary nature of the accommodation in which the workers were crammed: “It’s not unsanitary, it’s a coat of paint. There is still the Time to fix it,” he replied.
Confronted with our images, the president of the FFF, Noël Le Graët did not seem to take the measure of the problem.
“It’s not insoluble, that. It’s a lick of paint. he says.
— Further investigation (@Cdenquete) October 13, 2022
Racism and homophobia
Finally, the audit commissioned by the Ministry of Sports looks at acts of racism and homophobia to which Noël Le Graët has been tempted in recent years. The latter has, on several occasions, made awkward remarks which have caused a lot of reaction. This is how in September 2020, the president of the FFF spoke about racism in football by declaring: “In a match, there may be differences, but overall, we have less 1% difficulties. There have been some, but you know, when a black player scores a goal, the whole stadium is standing. The racist phenomenon in sport and in football in particular, does not exist, or hardly exists”.
After the elimination of the Blues against Switzerland at Euro 2020, Kylian Mbappé, who had missed the final penalty, had received a whole bunch of racist insults. The latter was saddened by the lack of support from the president of the FFF.
On homophobia too, the former mayor of Guingamp is the subject of an investigation. “Stopping matches (to deal with homophobic acts) doesn’t interest me. It’s a mistake. I’m sorry to offend the fine minds, but banners like “LFP, enc..” are not homophobic “, he had advanced.
Withdrawn from his duties as president of the French Football Federation until the final publication of this audit, Noël Le Graët does not seem willing to resign for the time being. If he does not leave on his own, only the Federal Assembly of the FFF can dismiss him. And according to the statutes of the authority, the revocation procedure can be launched from the moment when a quarter of the members of this federal assembly, composed of 218 voters, request the holding of an extraordinary AG, which could be done as soon as publication of the audit.