French FA chief Le Graet 'no longer has legitimacy' to stay in post, says report

Le Graet is currently under investigation by Paris prosecutors for sexual and psychological harassment

By AFP
January 30, 2023
Noel Le Graet denies any wrongdoing  — AP 

PARIS: Noel Le Graet, the scandal-hit president of the French Football Federation under investigation for sexual harassment, "no longer has the necessary legitimacy to run and represent French football", according to a report into governance failings at the body seen by AFP on Monday.

The report follows an audit of the FFF ordered by France's Sports Ministry after allegations made against the 81-year-old Le Graet, who was forced to step down earlier this month pending its outcome.

"Considering his conduct towards women, his public comments and the governance failings of the FFF, Mr Le Graet no longer has the necessary legitimacy to run and represent French football," the report said, adding that the body's handling of cases of sexist and sexual violence was "neither effective nor efficient".

Le Graet is currently under investigation by Paris prosecutors for sexual and psychological harassment following accusations against him made by football agent Sonia Souid.

The report stated that his attitude towards women "can be described at the very least as sexist", and said that there was evidence his behaviour was "likely to be considered as criminal".

He denies any wrongdoing.

Despite already stepping down and being replaced on an interim basis by vice-president Philippe Diallo, Le Graet is still officially recognised as president by world governing body FIFA.

The report also targeted the "brutal" management practices of the body's director general Florence Hardouin, who has also been suspended from her role.

The FFF's directors have been given until February 13 to respond to the conclusions of the report.

Le Graet's mandate runs until 2024 but the organisation's executive committee can decide to hold an extraordinary general assembly where it could vote to depose the standing president.

The affair has cast a cloud over French football barely a month after they reached the World Cup final in Qatar, losing on penalties to Argentina to just fall short of retaining the title they won in 2018.

Le Graet, who has been president of the FFF since 2011, had already faced calls to resign, including from Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera, after dismissive remarks in a recent radio interview about France legend Zinedine Zidane's potential interest in coaching the national team.

Didier Deschamps recently extended his contract to stay as coach through to 2026, having been in charge since 2012.