Africa-Press – Eritrea. Noel Le Graet on Wednesday stepped aside from his duties as president of the French Football Federation (FFF) following an urgent executive committee meeting for his “clumsy” remarks about France legend Zinedine Zidane, the French football body announced.
“Noel Le Graet, in agreement with the FFF Executive Committee meeting in Paris today, has decided to take a step back from his duties as president of the federation until the audit commissioned by the Sports Ministry has been definitively communicated, and pending its analysis by the FFF’s Executive Committee,” the FFF said in a statement.
The committee decided to “lay off” FFF Director General Florence Hardouin.
Philippe Diallo, deputy vice president at FFF, “will act as interim manager” in both roles.
Noel Le Graet, 81, has lately been under fire for his dismissive remarks about Zidane and allegedly improper conduct against a female sports agent.
In a communique on Monday, Le Graet apologized to Zidane, saying his “clumsy remarks have created a misunderstanding.”
Le Graet told a French sports channel on Sunday that Zidane, 50, had never been approached to coach the French national team.
“Zidane to Brazil (national team)? I don’t care. He does what he wants, that does not concern me. I have never met him (to talk). We have never considered parting with Didier (Deschamps),” Le Graet said.
In addition, the contract extension of France head coach Didier Deschamps was “validated unanimously” by the committee, which was one of the cases that Le Graet was criticized.
Deschamps, 54, a former France midfielder, has been coaching Les Bleus since 2012.
France failed to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and returned home with a silver medal after losing Argentina on penalties.
But Deschamps signed a contract extension through 2026 on Saturday.
A free agent since 2021, Zidane, who coached Real Madrid to win three UEFA Champions League titles in 2016-2018 and the Spanish La Liga twice in 2017 and 2020, was seen as an ideal candidate to replace his former teammate Deschamps.
Deschamps and Zidane were teammates at France when they won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and EURO 2000 titles.
Le Graet served for the FFF as president in 2011-2023.
In 2021, Le Graet was reelected for a further four years.
During his tenure, France hosted EURO 2016, where the French national team were eliminated in the final by Portugal 1-0 at Stade de France. But in 2018, Les Bleus secured the World Cup title in Russia after beating Croatia 4-2.