French Football boss resigns …over alleged sexual harassment claims

 The president of the French Football Federation has resigned from his position just a month after being suspended following sexual harassment al­legations, according to reports.

After an urgent meeting in January among the FFF execu­tive committee, Noel Le Graet was initially suspended follow­ing a week of high controversy, with vice chairman, Philippe Diallo, named as an acting interim.

According to RMC media in France, via Get French Football News, Le Graet has now stood down having been in the role since 2011.

Le Graet initially sparked chaos 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. Le Graet has denied any wrongdoing.

Le Graet’s suspension came after a sports agent accused him of improper conduct over sev­eral years, saying he only showed her sexual interest.

In an interview with L’Equipe, 37-year-old, Sonia Souid, claimed Le Graet made repeated approach­es towards her between 2013 and 2017.

She said that, while she wanted to develop a business relation­ship with Le Graet to promote women’s soccer, he was more interested in leaving messages on her voicemail late in the evening to invite her to drink champagne.

The allegations came just days after the 81-year-old was highly criticised for his treatment of French football legend,Zinedine Zidane.

Le Graet appeared on French radio station, RMC, discussing whether Didier Deschamps would continue as France boss following their defeat in the 2022 World Cup final by Argentina in Qatar, and appeared dismissive of the manager, who won three succes­sive Champions League finals with Real Madrid.

“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.

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.”

France’s sports minister ordered an investigation into the federation in September after the body said it would file a defa­mation lawsuit against So Foot magazine, which reported that Le Graet allegedly harassed several female employees.

In addition to his role at the French soccer federation, Le Graet also has been a member of the FIFA Council since being appointed by UEFA in May 2019. The position pays $250,000 (£207,000) annually.

Le Graet is currently a candi­date for another four-year term on FIFA’s ruling committee. He is being challenged for the seat by Portuguese soccer federation president, Fernando Gomes. The election is set for April 5, when UEFA member nations meet in Lisbon.

Le Graet’s candidacy must pass a FIFA-run eligibility and integrity check. He can stand for election despite UEFA imposing an age limit of 70 for candidates to its own executive committee. —Sportsmail

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