Noël Le Graët has stepped aside as president of the French Football Federation, just days after making dismissive comments about Zinedine Zidane. Le Graët, 81, apologised to former national captain Zidane after admitting comments he made about him were “clumsy”.
Zidane had been strongly linked to succeeding Didier Deschamps as France’s head coach, but Le Graët told the 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 a runners-up spot in Qatar last month, was handed a new two-year extension, but Le Graët’s attitude towards Zidane went down poorly. Kylian Mbappé tweeted his support of the “legend”, while the head of the FFF’s ethics committee, Patrick Anton, called for the octogenarian to stand down.
Le Graët, 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 the general manager, Florence Hardouin, with the deputy vice-president Philippe Diallo taking over both positions on an acting basis. Deschamps, meanwhile, had his contract ratified.
A statement from the FFF read: “Noel Le Graët, 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.”