In what has been a dramatic week in Women’s football in France, the manager of the French national team Corinne Diacre has been dismissed from her position only four months before the start of the 2023 Women’s World Cup – which is set to take place in Australia and New Zealand in July.
It came in an announcement from the FFF (French Football Federation) following an executive board meeting which took place on Thursday. This followed building pressure on the Federation to act in the wake of a player exodus which saw a number of Les Bleues’ key players withdraw dramatically from the squad.
Only two weeks ago did captain Wendie Renard and other vital players Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto announce their withdrawal from the national side, citing concerns about Diacre’s management and coaching methods.
The FFF cited “irreversible dysfunction” and a “fracture” between Diacre and the team’s key players as the reasons for the decision to sack the manager. While acknowledging Diacre’s “commitment and professionalism”, the FFF deemed the situation untenable and detrimental to the team’s interests.
The player exodus which started it all
Whilst Diacre has historically had problems with some key players such as Amadine Henry, former captain of the side who did not participate in the Euros last summer – discontent had not reached boiling point. This was until Lyon and France captain Wendie Renard announced that she wouldn’t play for Les Bleues seemingly as long as national women’s team manager Diacre remained in place.
“It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of my decision to step back from France’s National team,” wrote Renard. “Unfortunately, I won’t feature in the Women’s World Cup in these conditions.” The 32-year-old centre-back said she could no longer support the current system that she believes is far away from the standards required of the highest level. “It’s a sad day but a necessary one to preserve my mental health.”
This was then followed by Paris Saint-Germain pair Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani also releasing statements pointing the finger at the team’s management calling for “necessary and deep changes” to the management of the national team.
A Federation in crisis, four months until the World Cup
The news of the withdrawal of Renard, Diani, and Katoto compounded further crises at the top of French Football, with 81-year old president Noël Le Graët stepping back over his conduct and allegations of sexual harassment which forced the French Federation’s executive committee to take action under intolerable media pressure. Diacre actually had been kept in her position by the now-former president Le Graët, who extended her contract until August 2024 without consulting anyone.
The situation had become difficult for Diacre, who only this week swiped out in a statement given to Agence France Presse and quoted by L’Équipe denouncing a “destabilising operation” against her, notably speaking of a “shameful media battering.”
“For over ten days, I’ve been the subject of a smear campaign which is astonishing in its violence and dishonesty. My detractors are not hesitating – with no worry for the truth – to attack my personal and professional integrity, four months before the World Cup.”
A group will now be established to find Diacre’s successor but immediate concern will be to settle Diacre’s compensation, which is reported to be around €400,000 per year.
A four name shortlist was also reported last week naming potential successors. This includes, as RMC Sport reported, the Men’s manager of Saudi-Arabia Hervé Renard. The Frenchman is best known for a shock 2-1 victory over eventual winners Argentina in the first group match of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, as well as a stint with the Morocco national team. Renard is joined by Lyon manager Sonia Bompastor, Paris FC’s Sandrine Soubeyrand, Patrice Lair of Bordeaux, and PSG coach Gérard Prêcheur.