The menhir of French football Noël Le Graët was renewed on Saturday for four years at the head of the Federation he has led since 2011, a new success for impervious to the health crisis and the attacks of his competitors.
The “Prepare” remains in control. For the third time after 2012 and 2017, Noël Le Graët was largely re-elected president of the French Football Federation (FFF), which he has led since 2011. The 79-year-old Breton was declared the winner on Saturday in the first round at 73 % of the votes of the Federal Assembly, against 25% to his historic rival, the lawyer and former leader of the Professional League (LFP) Frédéric Thiriez, and 2% to the businessman and club advisor Michel Moulin .
Campaign focused on continuity
Arrived in 2011 to restore the image of a Federation soiled by the Knysna affair at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the former mayor of Guingamp, who cast doubt on his intentions to run for a new term, therefore leaves for a round, certainly the last.
“We are ready, as soon as we have the key, to reopen the stadiums, so that we can find a life again”, he assured the Assembly, placing the health crisis and the Covid-19 as “Priority of priorities”.
Without having upset those around him to lead a campaign focused on continuity, experience and his record in the face of the health crisis, the Breton entrepreneur, traditionally widely supported by professional football, has also been able to seduce the amateur world.
This represented 63% of the votes of the Federal Assembly and its 207 members cast out of 218 in total, made up of the presidents of regional and district leagues, as well as other delegates from local authorities and clubs.
Meeting by videoconference for health reasons, the Federal Assembly has apparently been convinced by its wish to now open “The period of the reconquest”, that of licensees, educators and volunteers after a sharp drop following the Covid-19 crisis, as he told AFP in the final sprint of the campaign.
Nor his few public slippages, as when he said, about the deleterious climate among the Blue, that they could “Pulling your hair” as long as they won, nor the criticisms of his internal management of the “3F” considered authoritarian by its detractors, were not enough for its adversaries.
“Crying is easy. Providing solutions is much more complicated ”, he launched during the Assembly, urging, “In these difficult times”, to be “Present, positive” in front of people “Who criticize and do not want it to work”.
Prepare for inheritance
The lawyer with the famous mustache Frédéric Thiriez (68), supported by Basile Boli and Jean-Pierre Papin, had not mince words against the leader, accused “To suffocate” the amateur world and “To no longer master your language”.
But the strong man of French football, architect of the second star won by the Blues at the 2018 World Cup and at the origin of the appointment of coach Didier Deschamps, was able to remain unperturbed in the face of the attacks, believing that he had “No lessons to be learned from anyone”, while sportingly, the three major selections (male, female, Espoirs) are qualified for the Euro.
Recovered from lymphoid leukemia announced before the 2018 World Cup, “NLG” said to himself ” in fine fettle “ to continue the adventure, always preferring to talk about“Experience” rather than age, when he will be in his eighties in December.
A passing of the baton?
Will he go to the end of his term? The ground is groomed for his succession, with in the front line his faithful among the faithful, Marc Keller, president of Strasbourg, even Jean-Michel Aulas, the boss of the Olympique Lyonnais. Both will remain members of the Executive Committee of the FFF, to which they were renewed for four years. But a potential handover at mid-term was mentioned …
In the meantime, Le Graët seems determined not to change anything in the current governance of his Federation, despite internal shocks in recent years, in particular relating to the managerial methods of the Director General Florence Hardouin. Continuity, until the end.