‘The dice were loaded from the start’ – Corrine Diacre a year on from ‘orchestrated’ France sacking

In two days, it’ll be a year since Corinne Diacre was sacked from her role as the manager of the French women’s team. 

It was an end brought about by infighting and a team rebellion against a manager who had grown increasingly unpopular with key figures in the team. Wendie Renard (33), Marie-Antoinette Katoto (25), and Kadidiatou Diani (28) all threatened to step away from the team ahead of last summer’s World Cup. 

In the context, of what the French Football Federation referred to as a “significant divide,” Diacre was released from her duties, and in her place, Hervé Renard was brought in where he led France to the quarter-finals where they were beaten by co-hosts Australia on penalties. 

Diacre at the time was angered by what she called a “smear campaign” against her, and it is a position that has not softened in the time since. 

‘He tells me it’s over’ 

Speaking to L’Équipe, the former manager detailed that she was notified by a phone call by the then interim president for the FFF Philippe Diallo, “He tells me it’s over. I suspected it a little because I had been interviewed by a commission made up of members of the executive committee who had not given me much hope.” 

The problem for Diacre is that she believes she had lost support within the federation when Diallo took over after Noël Le Graët stepped down due to accusations of bullying and sexual harassment. Diallo’s position meant that Jean-Michel Aulas was now a more prominent influence in the federation, and his relationship with Diacre was already strained

Auals at the time was the then president for Olympique Lyonnais, a position he relinquished in May of that year, and at the end of 2023, he was made the vice president of the FFF. 

I didn’t do what [Aulas] wanted, what he expected regarding the players at his club. I managed the France team.” Diacre continued, “A national selection is made up of elements from several clubs. Even if there are very good players at this club, there are also elsewhere.

She explains, “I get blamed for a lot of things but the dice were loaded from the start. From the moment he took power in the federation, I knew my days were numbered… it was very unfair and violent because it was done behind my back.” 

‘It seems that you have to smile’ 

Diacre was the subject of criticisms in her role as the France manager that are rarely levelled at her male counterparts. “I have a lot of coaching friends who say to me: ‘How did you manage to survive all that?’ With everything I’ve had done to me, personal attacks linked to facial features, it’s beyond comprehension. Behind the coach, there is a person, a family who is suffering.” 

For a woman, Diacre believes that there is a specific role that they must always perform, “It seems that you have to smile. I find it very cliché. The woman must smile. On her sideline, in her technical area, she must always smile.” She compares this to her male colleagues who have “the right to make a face, to harangue [their] players.” 

Diacre’s fallout with Renard

If the beginning of the end for Diacre was started by Aulas then she believes it was finished by her former captain Renard. “It was her word against mine. But she had the support from the federation, and I didn’t.” 

Diacre believes she was not helped by her stance in support of Kheira Hamraoui (34). The current free agent had been at Paris Saint-Germain when she was attacked by masked men on the side of the road alongside her teammate Aminata Diallo (28). 

Diallo has been accused of orchestrating the attack against her teammate allegedly because they played in the same position and she wanted to secure her game time over Hamraoui. This is something that Diallo strongly denies, and believes is rooted in racial profiling. 

The accusation created a divide within the PSG dressing room that continued into the national side with some coming out in support of Diallo, as Diacre explains, “At one point, I took a stand for the one who was attacked. This did not please other players. When it came to rallying their captain’s cause, some joined in.” 

‘I’m ready to find a big challenge’

I respected the Blue Jersey.” Diacre offers, “I believe that in recent times, the federation, with the people who are at its head today, have not respected it. France is everything to me. That was it for me. Today I have a few grievances.” 

However, despite this the manager now appears ready to move on, even if she has not yet forgiven the circumstances that saw her ousted from her dream job. “I’ve digested it, even if it took me a little time. The page is turned. I want to move forward. The desire [to manage] returned.” 

She provided one last clue for where she might next turn her attention to, “I continue to learn English. I’m ready to find a big challenge, at club or national level. I’m giving myself all the means to experience a new adventure, if possible abroad.” 

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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