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Nine women accuse the FFF of firing them because of their gender or sexual orientation

As reported by Mediapart, nine women have accused the French Football Federation of firing them because of their gender or sexual orientation. 

Having been dismissed last May, as nine of 16 dismissals, the women interviewed by Mediapart consider themselves victims of various discriminatory acts. One former employee, 20 years an executive in the financial services department, alleges “discrimination following testimony in matters of sexual harassment,” having been one of two employees to testify in support of a colleague who filed a complaint against the financial director, Marc Varin. The criminal case over which was eventually dismissed. The employee could have been spared from the dismissals due to her senior status but, according to the group’s lawyers in a document seen by Mediapart, a distinction was made in the FFF’s job retention plan that only concerned her.

Further accusations of homophobia were also reported by Mediapart after two women, affected by the FFF’s dismissals, ‘formalized their family situation’, as Mediapart put it, with the arrival of their son in April. Mediapart report that relationships were prohibited amongst staff but that at least one other (heterosexual) relationship between colleagues had never been a problem. Another former employee claims her position was removed while on maternity leave.

FFF general manager Florence Hardouin told Mediapart that these dismissals were “necessary” because “the federation had serious budgetary problems. The health crisis and the TV rights debacle have done a lot of harm to French football. The payroll was becoming too high.” Those questioned by Mediapart, allege that that is not the case after the FFF’s then HR director and treasurer both reassured that the federation remained financially healthy back in the spring. Meanwhile, a member of the executive committee explained that Hélène Schrub, another committee member, had opposed the plan in the presence of Hardouin. “Hélène’s speech summed up a position widely shared within the Executive Committee. Economically, the federation had absolutely no need to fire people” Mediapart was told. 

Meanwhile, La Monde reported that the FFF hopes to save €2m form the annual payroll during the 2022-2023 fiscal year, although Mediapart report documents show these dismissals had been suggested as early as summer 2020. Although FFF president Noël Le Graët insists that “there is no sexist atmosphere at the FFF,” a former executive questioned by Mediapro summed up the situation by saying: “It’s not good to be a woman at the federation.”

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