President of the French Football Federation (FFF), Noel Le Graet, has been suspended from his position following a week of controversy, with Vice Chairman Philippe Diallo named as acting interim chairman.
Le Graet, who had been FFF president since 2011 sparked controversy in French media after publicly denouncing the managerial abilities of national legend Zinedine Zidane.
Days later, allegations of sexual harassment caused the president to face severe backlash and has now led to his suspension following an urgent meeting of the FFF executive committee.
The drama began when Le Graet spoke about whether Deschamps would continue as France’s national team coach, before dismissing the chances of appointing Zidane.
‘I wouldn’t even have taken his call,’ said Le Graet. ‘To tell him what? “Hello sir, don’t worry. Look for another club. I just agreed a contract with Didier.”
‘It’s up to him what he does. It’s not my business. I’ve never met him and we’ve never considered parting with Didier.
‘He can go where he wants, to a club. He would have as many as he wants in Europe, a big club. But a national side is hardly credible, to my mind.’
Deschamps has now agreed a contract extension until 2026 but Le Graet’s harsh comments about Zidane, who scored a brace in France’s 1998 World Cup triumph, touched a nerve with players and pundits.
France star Kylian Mbappe wrote on Twitter that ‘Zidane is France, we don’t disrespect the legend like that.’
France’s sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera demanded an apology for Le Graet’s ‘shameful lack of respect.’
In response, Le Graet said: ‘I would like to apologise for these remarks, which absolutely do not reflect my views nor my consideration for the player he was and the coach he has become.
‘I gave an interview to [French radio station] RMC that I should not have given because they were looking for controversy by opposing Didier and Zinedine Zidane, two greats of French football.’
Days later, a sports agent accused the FFF president of improper conduct over several years, saying he only was interested in her sexually.
The agent, 37-year-old Sonia Souid, said in an interview with L’Equipe sports daily that Le Graët repeatedly tried to approach her from 2013-17.