FFF report: on the hot seat, will Christmas Le Graët pass spring ?

 he auditors responsible for investigating the dysfunctions at the French Football Federation ( FFF ) delivered their final report to the main stakeholders on Wednesday. The "behavioral drifts" of the president of the French Football Federation, Noël Le Graët, are highlighted by the synthesis of the audit mission. They are also considered to be "incompatible with the exercise of functions and the requirement of exemplarity attached to it".

The time of the verdict on the the FFF. The auditors responsible for investigating its dysfunctions returned their final report, Wednesday, February 15, to the main stakeholders – including Noël Le Graët, boss of French football, on an ejection seat.

And the summary of the audit mission, extracts of which were revealed by several French media, is bluntly: the "behavioral drifts" of the president of the French Football Federation "are incompatible with the exercise of functions and the requirement of exemplarity attached to him".

"The status quo is impossible" concerning Noël Le Graët, who no longer has "the legitimacy necessary to administer and represent" tricolor football, said the Minister of Sports on Wednesday, Amélie Oudea-Castéra. The leader of the FFF "is a man of decision, I hope he will take the right ones for the Federation, but also for himself. Other avenues exist if he does not do so, "said the minister at a press conference following the conclusion of the audit mission.

"The hearings conducted by the mission highlighted Mr. Le Graët's inappropriate behavior towards women", we can read in this summary of the final report. "The mission is not only a matter of words and SMS from Mr. Le Graët, ambiguous for some and clearly sexual in nature for others, but also points to the late schedule of shipments, their repetitive nature and the nature of the recipients – of women placed under its authority and / or in an dependency relationship."

With regard to the elements in their possession, the rapporteurs consider that the behavior of the president of the FFF "cannot be considered to respect the dignity of these people and does not comply with the obligation of exemplarity expected from a president of a delegated federation". They add that "the hearings conducted by the mission highlighted that the inappropriate and abusive nature of Mr. Le Graët's words can be accentuated by the excessive consumption of alcohol."

Also, "given his behavior towards women, his public statements and the failure of his governance of the FFF", continue the authors of the text, "the mission considers that Mr. Le Graët no longer has the legitimacy necessary to administer and represent French football."

"A procedural travesty" for Christmas lawyers Le Graët

This is the last step for the inspection mission carried out by the Ministry of Sports, after final hearings and two weeks granted at Noël Le Graët, to the director general Florence Hardouin ( layoff ) and to the FFF executive committee to respond to the charges. After the epilogue of the audit mission will come the time for the conclusions to be drawn for Comex, the French football government made up of fourteen people – including Noël Le Graët.

The ball is first in the president's court, set back since January 11 and forced to resign by some of his relatives. A departure or a return to business ? The 81-year-old leader is expected to make his position known at an extraordinary Comex soon to be summoned.

"The situation is untenable. The most honorable solution would be for him to resign, "explains an elected official under the guise of anonymity. At the FFF, other voices describe a "Prez" ( his nickname ) sounded by events, considering himself innocent and reluctant to let go of the bar.

The president of French football, in office since 2011, has however been in the storm for several weeks, weakened by his clumsy statements about the Zinedine Zidane icon and by testimonies from women blaming him for inappropriate behavior. Since mid-January, it has also been targeted by an investigation for moral and sexual harassment, opened following a report made by the inspectors. The latter indicated that they would transmit additional information to the courts.

The pre-report of the General Inspectorate of Education, Sport and Research ( IGESR ) had already proved overwhelming: Noël Le Graët, write the inspectors, did not "plus the legitimacy necessary to administer and represent French football "taking into account" its behavior towards women, its public statements and the failings of governance "at the FFF.

In their observations, the lawyers of the president of the FFF, Mes Florence Bourg and Thierry Marembert, pound a text "enamelled with subjectivity, value judgments and interpretations against him" and the impossibility, for them, "to bring a contradiction" in the face of "extracts from anonymous, fragmented, truncated, imprecise testimonies". "The methods used by inspectors, media manipulation, political interference give this procedure the aspects of a procedural travesty", they still denounce, pointing to "ministerial pressures dependent and without reservation".

The possibility of disciplinary proceedings against the president of the FFF  

Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Casta has spared no criticism of "NLG". After the first elements of the report, however, it voluntarily stopped answering questions about the FFF and its president. She will hold a press conference on the subject on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the ministry.

This thorny question could appear on the menu of the meeting between Emmanuel Macron and the boss of the International Football Federation ( Fifa ) Gianni Infantino, this Wednesday afternoon in Paris.

The next FFF Comex promises in all cases animated, with the return of Noël Le Graët himself, a first for a month. Its withdrawal was scheduled to last until Comex following the submission of the report.

The Breton can decide to return his apron, under pressure from his old running mate, or to hang on to his post, which would then place his bodyguard in embarrassment. To get him out, the members of Comex would have no choice but to resign themselves to provoke elections, a radical hypothesis that some no longer exclude.

Le Comex peut par ailleurs engager une procédure disciplinaire à l'encontre de Noël Le Graët. Ce levier, mis en exergue par la mission d'audit, peut déboucher sur la "radiation" d'un licencié ou d'un dirigeant se rendant coupable d'un "comportement contraire à la morale, à l'éthique ou portant atteinte à l'honneur, à l'image ou à la considération de la FFF (...) ou, plus généralement, du football français", selon les règlements fédéraux.


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