French football federation head Noël Le Graët resigns amid sexual harassment investigation

The French football federation president Noël Le Graët resigned Tuesday after a government audit found he no longer had the legitimacy to lead because of his behaviour toward women and his management style.

The 81-year-old Le Graët is under judicial investigation for alleged sexual and moral harassment. He had already stepped away from his duties pending the review of the audit’s findings by the federation’s executive committee.

He submitted his resignation at an executive committee meeting on Tuesday, according to a statement from the federation.

Its vice president Philippe Diallo will handle Le Graët’s duties on an interim basis until June 2023, the statement said.

Amid growing criticism of Le Graët last year, French sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra ordered the audit last September.

The final report, based on more than 100 interviews and analysis of various documents, concluded last month that Le Graët’s behaviour toward women was inappropriate, and highlighted other dysfunctions at the federation. It also noted that its policy against gender-based and sexual violence is “neither effective nor efficient.”

The federation praised Le Graët’s “remarkable sporting and economic results” as head of the soccer body since 2011. It reiterated its “strong commitment against gender-based and sexual violence” and sought to distance itself from the audit.

Le Graët has had a strong relationship with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and he will continue to work for FIFA’s office in Paris despite standing down.

Infantino appointed Le Graët in January 2022 as his personal delegate to FIFA’s satellite office in Paris which includes liaising with member federations in Europe and Africa.

“The French Football Federation is doing a remarkable job,” Infantino said last year in announcing the appointment”, and I often have the opportunity to talk with Noël Le Graët to better understand how the example set here in France can support football development projects on a global basis.”

Le Graët is also a candidate to retain his €235,000-a-year seat on FIFA’s ruling council which is elected by UEFA member federations.

Despite the controversy surrounding the French soccer body, Le Graët has not publicly withdrawn his candidacy to stand in a 5 April vote at the UEFA Congress in Lisbon, Portugal. His scheduled opponent is Fernando Gomes, a UEFA vice president from Portugal.


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