“I have nothing to shake, he can go where he wants”: these words of the president of the French Football Federation (FFF) Noël Le Graët, addressed to the former footballer Zinédine Zidane, provoked strong reactions from the world of sport and politics. This large-scale controversy is in addition to the cases of sexual harassment and dysfunctions in which the president of the FFF is put in case, while he is auditioned Tuesday, January 10 by the mission responsible for inspecting the institution.
► Messages of a sexual nature
“It’s very simple, he jumps on anything that moves,” testified an employee in an investigation by the magazine So Foot on the dysfunctions of the federation and the attitudes of its president, published last September. The investigation mentions these “invitations of a sexual nature” sent by the former president of the Guingamp football club to employees of the FFF. Since then, other testimonies of employees who have received grave messages or who have been approached by Noël Le Graët have been reported in the media.
💬 “My president sees me as two breasts and an ass”
Sports agent Sonia Souid denounces on BFMTV the inappropriate behavior of Noël Le Graët ⤵ pic.twitter.com/gj3QZRFRd8
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) January 9, 2023
Beyond these testimonies, the So Foot article highlights “a toxic and hostile atmosphere for women” at the FFF. A formula taken from a hearing report to the industrial tribunal, during a case of sexual harassment on the part of the financial director of the federation.
► Racism in stadiums
Footballers are regularly targeted with racist insults and shouting in stadiums or on the Internet. Kylian Mbappé paid the price on social networks, after his failure in the penalty shootout, in the round of 16 of Euro 2021 against Switzerland.
Asked about this wave of racist insults, Noël Le Graët tempers: “you know, when a black scores a goal, the whole stadium is standing”. Before continuing: “The racist phenomenon in sport and in football in particular, does not exist, or hardly exists”. This outing had provoked strong reactions, especially from the star striker of the France team. Despite this context of multiplication of insults in the stadiums, no measure has been put in place by the FFF.
► Inaction on homophobia
Homophobia, also present in stadiums, on banners and in supporters’ songs, is also one of the current issues facing football institutions. Several sports personalities thus regularly call for measures to deal with it, such as stopping matches, as the referee is authorized to do in the event of racist songs.
But contrary to this case, “stopping matches (Editor’s note: to deal with homophobic acts) does not interest me”, declared the president of the FFF on franceinfo in 2019. “I would stop a match for racist cries, I would stop a match for a fight, incidents if there is a danger in the stands”.
► Management criticized
In the aftermath of the France team’s coronation at the 2018 World Cup, the federation, which is also a company with around 300 employees, found itself at the heart of several cases of poor personnel management. Certain “management methods”, inappropriate behavior and unfair dismissals have thus led to the appointment of an internal mediator.
Despite these internal problems, relayed to the New York Times, “Noël Le Graët assures us that things are not as serious as some executives claim”, indicates the article. The mediator, he turned out to be close to the general manager of the FFF, Florence Hardouin, whose management is also questioned by these executives.
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