Noel le Graet, president of the French Football Association, has resigned in the wake of a devastating report on the group and allegations of sexual harassment.
In January, the 81-year-old retired as the French government conducted an audit of the federation.
The report’s conclusion was made public when it was released earlier this month. “Considering his conduct toward women, his public comments, and the governance inadequacies of the FFF, Mr. Le Graet no longer has the required legitimacy to administer and represent French football,” it said.
Le Graet, who has always maintained his innocence, was also told he should not take up the position again because of his “behavioral excesses are incompatible with the carrying out of his tasks.”
Le Graet will continue to serve as a representative of Fifa, according to several FFF members.
He was chosen to represent Fifa president Gianni Infantino in the organization’s new Paris office in January 2022.
Infantino had “seized the opportunity to utilise Noel’s qualities,” Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said, adding that “if that means indirectly that it comes at a good time for Noel, it’s a wonderful thing.”
Le Graet has previously been accused of sexual harassment, which he denies. He served in government for 11 years and had a mandate that lasts until 2024.
As a result of his remarks on Zinedine Zidane, who led Real Madrid to three straight Champions League victories and won the World Cup and the Euros while playing for France, there were also calls for him to resign.
Le Graet then apologized for his “clumsy” remarks and stated that he would not accept a call from Zidane regarding the position of France coach.
After learning of charges of sexual harassment and bullying inside the organization, which the FFF has denied, the French government started the audit in October.
The FFF acknowledged Noel le Graet’s “exceptional sporting and economic performance” when it announced his resignation on Tuesday.
“The FFF nevertheless emphasizes that the report is based less on objective facts than on comments that have occasionally led to exaggerated bad-mouthing of the body,” it continued, referring to the audit.
When Le Graet assumed office in 2011, the men’s national team had already won the 2018 World Cup and placed second at the Euro 2016 and the 2022 World Cup.
Le Graet extended Didier Deschamps’ contract to oversee the national team until 2026 when he stepped down earlier this year.
Until a permanent replacement is chosen in June, vice-president Philippe Diallo will continue to serve as president in acting capacity.
Wendie Renard, the women’s team captain, and two other players announced they would not compete in this year’s World Cup and criticized the nation’s football “system,” prompting Le Graet to retire.
Later this summer, when France is scheduled to compete at the Women’s World Cup, Diallo said a decision about head coach Corinne Diacre’s future would be made “quite soon.”