FFF audit report criticises Noël Le Graët over inappropriate behaviour

The final report of the government-manded audit into the French FA concludes that president Noël Le Graët is no longer fit to manage French football, L’Équipe report tonight.

The president of the FFF has stepped back from his duties since an extraordinary board meeting last month. The audit had been called last year in the wake of an investigation by So Foot regarding the management of the organisation, also highlighting several instances of alleged sexual harassment on the part of Le Graët, claims which the 81-year-old denies. Prosecutors opened an investigation for “bullying and sexual harassment” in January after information was passed on by the auditors.

He had also been criticised for his dismissive comments on Zinédine Zidane’s chances of becoming the French national team manager. The final audit report considers that his public statements in the last two years have been inappropriate and “incompatible with the exemplary standards required of the president of a sporting federation, who benefits from a delegate contract with the state.” It adds that many of his comments could have been sanctioned according to the FFF’s code of conduct, but no disciplinary proceedings had been opened yet.

Auditors add that the hearings they carried out brought to light inappropriate behaviour on Le Graët’s part towards female colleagues, including text messages of a sexual nature, many of which sent late in the night and repetitively, with the recipients of the messages being women under his authority within the FFF, according to the summary of the report by L’Équipe. They add that his behaviour was exacerbated by alcohol consumption.

They conclude that he “no longer has the necessary legitimacy to manage and represent French football. Florence Hardouin, the Director General who was suspended and is set for a meeting before dismissal in April, is also criticised, for her “brutal methods and behaviour which is considered erratic“. Auditors highlight a number of moments of crisis, in particular after the World Cup in 2018, with “violent” exchanges between members of the management committee and instances of “malfunction” and a “sexist” atmosphere”, as well as her “passive” reaction to these.

The FFF’s executive board is also criticised for a perceived lack of democracy, and the lack of weight that the ethics committee holds. The board is set to meet this Friday or next week to react to the report, with the majority pushing for Le Graët’s resignation.

GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin

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