French FA management lambasted in government audit

L’Équipe report today that the preliminary reports covering the government-mandated audit into the French FA have been submitted to those concerned today, namely president Noël Le Graët – who has stepped back from his duties pending the full conclusions  – the organisation’s number two Florence Hardouin, and Philippe Diallo, the acting president.

The initial conclusions of the report – which was called by Minister for Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra last year in the wake of a So Foot investigation which claimed various instances of mismanagement and sexual harassment within the FFF – are reportedly damning for Le Graët, Hardouin and the organisation as a whole. 

The auditors notably lament – in the report seen by L’Équipe – that the executive board is not a place of debate, and that the tendency is for its members to back the president, given their terms are tied to his. The report also points the figure towards various periods of crisis within the directors’ committee, in particular during the World Cup. This includes “violent exchanges” between members, some of whom were going against director-general Hardouin, all the while Le Graët would let the situation deteriorate while maintaining an “ambiguous” position.

They note a “sexist and violent atmosphere” within the directors’ committee up until 2020, which they claim was confirmed by their hearings, although the subsequent departures of certain people led to an improvement of the situation.

Regarding the organisation’s measures against sexual and sexist violence, the auditors indicate that it is “neither effective nor efficient“, and that at the FFF headquarters in Paris such instances “are never clearly indicated“.

The operational proximity between Hardouin and Le Graët is described as having “evolved in a toxic manner”, while the former’s position on UEFA’s executive board is described as “incompatible” with her position as DG of the FFF, in that it contributes to “exerting a form of authority” over her own employer.

Auditors also lament the lack of regulation on Le Graët’s power, although noting that it has weakened. They add that “the hearings carried out have brought to light a problematic attitude from Mr. Le Graët with regard to women, which can at the very least be termed as sexist.”  

Earlier this month, L’Équipe had reported that evidence passed on by auditors to the authorities has now led to the president being under investigation for suspected bullying and sexual harassment, and the report seen by L’Équipe indicates that more will be passed on to the Paris public prosecutor. The report has indicated that they believe he no longer has “the necessary legitimacy to run and represent French football”, as a result of his alleged attitudes towards women, his public statements and the reported failings of the FFF. 

All of those concerned have until midway through February to respond to the comments made about them, in writing.

GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin 

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