The ball is in their court. How to play it? All in defense, more on the attack or in swaying dribbling? One certainty: the members of the executive committee (comex) of the French Football Federation (FFF) will not be able to clear in touch. Its meeting on February 28 is the decisive step in a soap opera that draws in length.
The latest adventures, however, outline the end of the game. The final report of the three investigators of the General Inspectorate of Education, Sport and Research (IGESR) presented by the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra on Wednesday February 15 is final. After nearly five months of auditing and 114 hearings, the “inappropriate behavior” of the president of the FFF Noël Le Graët “towards women” ; text messages often “ambiguous” and sometimes “clearly sexual in nature” ; remarks “insulting” can “to be exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption”. The conclusion overwhelms a president who “no longer has the necessary legitimacy to administer and represent French football”.
President “until further notice”
For Amélie Oudéa-Castera, “the status quo is impossible”, and it is up to Noël Le Graët to take “good decisions” or “to the members of the FFF bodies to act”. The Minister cannot in fact dismiss Noël Le Graët. The autonomy of the sports movement is so made that the cards are now in other hands.
And Noël Le Graët intends to play with those, even rare, that he has left. He is pushed out? Denouncing a “execution report”, Florence Bourg, one of his lawyers, assured Thursday February 16 at the microphone of RTL that Noël Le Graët “would take his decision quietly”. In the meantime, he remains president ” until further notice “. The 81-year-old Breton knows his inevitable resignation. But he wants to choose his time, the staging, and influence the rest of the story.
— RTL France (@RTLFrance) February 16, 2023
What are the possible scenarios? If Noël Le Graët resigns, a general assembly scheduled for June 2023 will choose from among the 13 members of the current executive committee an interim president to complete the term until December 2024, before a new election. This is obviously the solution now favored by the elected officials of the body. The only one that guarantees them to retain power for the next eighteen months.
Problem: clans are emerging, and Noël Le Graët would like in a final baroud to weigh in on the choice of the future interim, knowing that Philippe Diallo, at the helm since his “withdrawal”, is not his favorite. The days to come will be animated by these negotiations.
A comex under high tension
What other possibilities, if Noël Le Graët decides to hang on? The resignation of the members of the comex to provoke new elections? Some wave this intention, but they do not yet form a majority ready to lose everything in this bad deal. Trigger disciplinary proceedings against Noël Le Graët? For services rendered, in the past, at least during his first terms, most members of the executive committee do not want this exit door for their former leader.
“There is a lot of work to do”
There also remains the track of the revolt of the amateur world, which could request an extraordinary elective assembly, but it would be necessary that at least 25% of its leaders mobilize. Finally, the High Authority for Football, with its 24 members (including 7 women today), can convene a general meeting to vote on the dismissal of the comex, and, if 25% of the members accept it, convene an elective meeting.
At the end of January, its president Laurent Ugo promised to intervene “if the comex did not do its job”. However, in the past, the authority did not appear very prompt with the least intervention.
“We will have to help this federation to move forward and to better grasp the phenomena of gender-based violence”, pointed out Amélie Oudéa-Castéra on Wednesday, evoking “manifest deficiencies” in the matter. “There is a lot of work to be done,” she added. She will still have to wait, because for the time being the soap opera continues.