When women’s football team captain Wendie Renard stated last month that she would no longer play for the team, fellow stars Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto followed suit. The 48-year-old was under contract until 2024 but was put under intense pressure.
The French Football Federation (FFF) made the news on Thursday, just over four months before the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, when a fifth-ranked France team will seek to play a significant role. The French federation — itself in turmoil following the recent retirement of its scandal-hit 81-year-old head Noel Le Graet — claimed its own inquiry had shown “a huge rift with senior players” which had “reached a point of no-return that was hurting the team’s interests”.
The FFF respects the significance and the seriousness
It continued, “The FFF respects the significance and the seriousness with which Corinne Diacre and her colleagues have done their work, but it seems the flaws are, in this environment, irreparable. It has been decided to terminate Corinne Diacre’s position as head of the France women’s team in light of this. When Lyon defender Renard, who has 142 caps and is regarded as one of the top players in the world, revealed last month that she would not be attending the World Cup, she made that split public.
Renard declared, “I can no longer accept the existing system, which is well below the standards necessary to compete at the greatest level. Diani and Katoto, both forwards for Paris Saint-Germain and the top scorer in the French league who, like Renard, was nominated for the Ballon d’Or last year, did the same.
“Now that we’ve here, there’s no turning back. The girls simply can’t handle it anymore, “Diacre’s dismissal may now lead to the return of those stars, as Diani previously informed broadcaster TF1.
Diacre claimed to have been the target of a “smear campaign” and that she was “absolutely committed to carry out my duty and, above all, to represent France proud in the next World Cup” in an interview with AFP on Wednesday. She had hoped to hold onto the job until after the Paris Olympics the following year.
Diacre has an impressive résumé, which includes 121 caps won while playing and a ground-breaking three-year tenure as manager of men’s team Clermont in the French second tier. Yet since since she relieved Renard of the captaincy early in her tenure as France coach, she has been unpopular.
Amandine Henry, a midfielder for Lyon who also captained the squad in the 2019 World Cup, has not been involved with the team since late 2020 because of a disagreement with the coach. The 2019 World Cup was hosted by France, who fell to the United States in the quarterfinals under Diacre. The European Championship was held in England last year, and Les Bleues fell to Germany in the semifinals.
France is scheduled to host friendlies against Olympic winners Canada and Colombia in April, but no new coach has been named. The FFF announced that its temporary president, Philippe Diallo, has ordered a committee to speak to potential candidates “as quickly as feasible”.
At a meeting on Thursday at the FFF headquarters in Paris, Diallo declared that the four-person committee established to look into the management of the women’s national team “unanimously” recommended replacing Diacre. Gerard Precheur, the head coach of PSG at the moment, is one of the candidates mentioned. There are other teams experiencing problems as the World Cup nears.
When 15 players abruptly announced their resignations in September of last year, demanding significant changes, Spain, ranked seventh in the world, was left in shambles. Nevertheless, coach Jorge Vilda was supported by the Spanish Football Federation, and none of the dissidents have played since.
In a dispute over wages, funding, and contractual difficulties, Canadian players have threatened to go on strike in order to get the same conditions as the men’s team. The conflict resulted in the resignation of Canada Soccer’s president. On July 23, France will play Jamaica in Sydney to open the World Cup.