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International

French Soccer President Resigns amid Misconduct Probe

PARIS — French soccer federation president Noël Le Graët resigned Tuesday after a government audit found he no longer had the legitimacy to lead because of his behavior 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 until the audit’s findings were reviewed by the federation’s executive committee.

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

Federation 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 into the federation in September.

The audit report, based on more than 100 interviews and analysis of various documents, concluded last month that Le Graët’s behavior 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 or 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 it was unclear on Tuesday what the status was of his two positions at soccer’s world body.

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

Le Graët is also a candidate to retain his $250,000-a-year seat on FIFA’s ruling council which is elected by UEFA member federations, and is due for renewal in five weeks’ time.

In a FIFA statement Tuesday, Infantino praised Le Graët as having been “an excellent president of the French Football Federation” including overseeing hosting the 2019 Women’s World Cup. It noted his two FIFA positions without updating on their status.

Despite the controversy surrounding the French soccer body, Le Graët has not publicly withdrawn his candidacy to stand in an April 5 vote at the UEFA Congress in Lisbon, Portugal.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

 

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