French football president steps down after ‘clumsy’ comments about Zinedine Zidane

Noel Le Graet

11th January 2023 – (Paris) Noel Le Graet has stepped aside as president of the French Football Federation, just days after making dismissive comments about Zinedine Zidane.

Le Graet, 81, apologised to former Les Bleus captain Zidane after admitting comments he made about the former Real Madrid manager were “clumsy”.

Zidane had been strongly linked as a potential successor to Didier Deschamps, but Le Graet told radio station RMC he would not take a call from one of France’s most decorated players and added: “I don’t give a damn, he can go wherever he wants”.

Deschamps, who led Les Bleus to World Cup glory in 2018 and runners-up in Qatar last month, was handed a new two-year extension, but Le Graet’s attitude towards Zidane went down poorly.

Kylian Mbappe tweeted his support of the “legend”, while the head of FFF’s ethics committee Patrick Anton called for the octogenarian to stand down.

Le Graet, who has also faced allegations about his private conduct, agreed to do so at a meeting with the federation’s executive committee, pending the findings of an ongoing investigation by the Ministry of Sports.

The committee also removed general manager Florence Hardouin, with deputy vice-president Philippe Diallo taking over both positions on an acting basis. Deschamps, meanwhile, had his contract ratified.

A statement from FFF read: “Noel Le Graet, in agreement with the executive committee of the FFF meeting today in Paris, has chosen to withdraw from his duties as president of the Federation until the final communication of the audit carried out by the Ministry of Sports, and awaiting its analysis by the Comex (executive committee) of the FFF.

“The Comex of the FFF has also decided to lay off Florence Hardouin, general manager of the FFF, as a precautionary measure. As of today, Philippe Diallo, deputy vice-president of the FFF, will act as interim manager of these two functions.”