Noël Le Graët left his position as president of the French Football Federation by resigning on Tuesday, February 28. The former Breton businessman will have managed the most important sports federation in France, for a good decade, with the victory of the Blues at the 2018 World Cup which will remain as the peak of his reign.
It was on Christmas Day that Le Graët was born in 1941 in Bourbriac in Brittany, in the Côtes-d’Armor. There, the “provincial”, as he likes to define himself, began his ascent to become the strongman of the most powerful French sports federation.
Born into a working-class family, a teacher in his youth, Noël Le Graët was PS mayor of Guingamp from 1995 to 2008. Le Breton chaired the En avant Guingamp club between 1972 and 1991 and from 2002 to 2011, taking him from regional level to Ligue 1. En avant Guingamp revealed Didier Drogba or Florent Malouda, and won the Coupe de France in 2009. He also chaired the Professional Football League (LFP) between 1991 and 2000. Then, at From 2005, he was vice-president of the FFF.
The “Menhir”, his nickname, has also made a fortune in the food industry near Guingamp, again. He created his company – now managed by his daughter – in the sector in 1984, a company specializing among other things in frozen products and seafood, which today employs nearly 700 people.
Re-elected in 2021 for a fourth term
” The resignation seems almost acquired », assured a member of the executive committee a few days earlier. Another evaluated at “ 99% the chances of seeing the former mayor of Guingamp withdraw. A third source close to the leader confirmed for his part that the president was “ ready for several weeks to hand over “.
indented on Wednesday January 11, 2023 of the presidency of the French Football Federation, Noël Le Graët will have spent more than ten years at the head of the body. He was re-elected in 2021 for a fourth term, with more than 73% of the vote. A man of power, in place since 2011 at the FFF, he easily rubbed shoulders with circles of power, offering himself a direct line with the Élysée, from François Hollande to Emmanuel Macron.
Arriving after the 2010 World Cup fiasco in South Africa, on the rubble of the Knysna affair, Noel Le Graet raised the bar until the second star of the Blues won in Russia in 2018. During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the first under his presidency, he had set a goal of a quarter-final that Didier Deschamps’ men had reached against the Germans. In Qatar in 2022, the Blues are in the final against Argentina. A record that every federation president dreams of having on his record. Under his reign, the FFF was enriched by taking over control of the marketing rights linked to the Blues, a real goose that lays the golden eggs.
But the character ended up annoying, including in his own circle. The one who was accustomed to murderous formulas did not feel the wind turn at the bend of his many slippages. As when he believes that racism ” does not exist or hardly in the world of football. Or, his statement with sexist hints on the Blue ones which ” can pull their hair as long as they win, also made waves. During his career as a leader of French football, he will have triggered many controversies with little phrases or cookie-cutter remarks.
His unconditional support for Qatar before the start of the competition made people cringe. ” It’s not insoluble, it’s paint strokes “, he dropped in the show Further investigation on France 2 which, with supporting images, showed him the deplorable conditions in which the subcontractor workers of the Hotel des Bleus. But his words about Zinedine Zidaneuntouchable icon, concerning his future potential on the bench of the selection, three days after the extension of the contract of Didier Deschamps at the head of the French team, have not passed.
” I wouldn’t even have picked it up on the phone […] I would be surprised if he went there. He does what he wants, that’s none of my business. I never met him and we never considered parting with Didier Deschamps. I have nothing to shake, he can go where he wants, in a club, he would have as many as he wants in Europe, a big club. A selection, I hardly believe it as far as I’m concerned “, he had retorted about the potential departure of Zidane in Brazil.
An end of reign that fueled ambitions
The Zidane affair was a pretext for personalities like Paris Saint-Germain player Kylian Mbappé or even the Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, to rebel against him. ” The future of the FFF is not to wait for the end of the president’s mandate in 2024. He would have to leave before. When you lack so much diplomacy in a position that is still quite political, it is because you are no longer able to exercise it. “, lamented Frank Leboeuf, the 98 world champion, in an interview with Parisian In France.
From then on, certain files concerning the escapades of the Breton leader came out, adding to those which were on the table. Several women testified against him: they denounced inappropriate jokes, tendentious SMS, grave remarks, and even sexual harassment.
Following a survey in the magazine SoFootpointing to many dysfunctions emanating from the FFF, the Ministry of Sports had ordered an administrative audit in September 2022, after accusations of sexual harassment and more generally of problematic management at the FFF, where his end of reign fueled ambitions.
Heavily questioned by the audit mission, Noël Le Graët ended up leaving. He lost the support of his executive committee. “ The situation is untenable, the most honorable solution would be for him to resign “Explained an elected official, on condition of anonymity, before the final submission of the report. THE ” behavioral deviations ” Of the president ” are incompatible with the exercise of the functions and the requirement of exemplarity which is attached to it “, could we read in the summary of the audit mission on the FFF.
Listeners recognize that Le Graët “ enjoyed a very positive image in the world of football, having straightened the finances of the FFF and modernizing its organization in the service of a positive sporting dynamic “, before the use “ very centralized of power does not lead to dysfunctions and clan logics “.
” I am a football lover Said Noël Le Graët before starting his very first mandate. At the time, he wanted to put himself at the service of amateurs », and was convinced that the FFF was « first a business “. With his departure, the FFF turns a page in its history. This combative man, who has overcome two cancers, could never have imagined such an outing.