The French Football Federation Executive Committee has announced the suspension of Noël Le Graët as president of the body following his criticism of Zinedine Zidane and allegations of sexual harassment.
Earlier, when asked about the coaching position of the French team following their last outing in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Le Graet said that Zidane had not contacted him, adding that even if he did, he would not answer his call.
The remarks drew criticism from Kylian Mbappe and the Real Madrid club. Le Graet has publicly apologised to Zidane. Le Graet is facing allegations of sexual harassment.
A French Football Federation statement has confirmed that the president of the FFF will step back from his post, at least until the conclusion of an internal audit, which began on Tuesday, AS reports.
The audit will look into allegations of sexual harassment that took place during his time as president. Vice-president Philippe Diallo will take over as interim president until the finding of the audit is revealed.
FFF’s statement on Noël Le Graët’s suspension reads as follows: “Noël Le Graët, in agreement with the FFF Executive Committee, who met today in Paris, has opted to withdraw from his functions as President of the Federation until the audit carried out by the Minister of Sport is concluded and its findings are assessed by the FFF Executive Committee.
“The FFF Executive Committee has also taken the decision to suspend Florence Hardouin, FFF general director, as a precautionary measure.
“As of today, Philippe Diallo, deputy vice-president of the FFF, will fill both roles on an interim basis.
“Lastly, the FFF Executive Committee has unanimously approved the terms of Didier Deschamps’ contract extension until 2026 as the head coach of the French national team.”
RMC Sport reports that it was Le Graët himself who called a meeting with members of the Executive Committee at 11 am on Wednesday morning in order to discuss whether he should continue in his position following his controversial recent outbursts in the media.
The committee, including Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas and Vincent Labrune, head of the LFP (Ligue de Football Professionnel), opted to suspend Le Graët as a result of his disrespectful comments towards Zinedine Zidane, which caused a furious backlash in France.
The committee went on to discuss the length of Deschamps’ contract renewal, which had been decided unilaterally by the president, and agent Sonia Souid’s allegations of being sexually harassed by Le Graët while she was employed by the federation.
The committee ruled that, aside from facing possible legal action, Le Graët would step back from his role as FFF President with immediate effect, two years before his term was due to finish. On Saturday morning, the 81-year-old had taken the decision, without consulting the board, to renew Deschamps’ contract until 2026, by which time he may no longer be in his role.