French football president Le Graet under investigation for sexual harassment

AFP , Tuesday 17 Jan 2023

The president of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, has been placed under investigation for sexual harassment, prosecutors told AFP on Tuesday.

 Noel Le Graet
Noel Le Graet, President of the French Football Federation, attends a press conference in Clairefontaine en Yvelines, during the Euro 2016 football tournament. AFP


The probe was opened on Monday after football agent Sonia Souid made accusations against Le Graet in an affair that has rocked French football just weeks after France were beaten by Argentina in the World Cup final.

"He very clearly said to me in his apartment that if I wanted him to help me, I had to let him have his way with me," said Souid, who gave interviews to sports daily L'Equipe and radio station RMC.

Le Graet, 81, has been president of the FFF since 2011 but was forced to step down last week pending the outcome of an audit of the federation performed by France's Sports Ministry.

He had faced calls to resign after what he admitted were "clumsy remarks" about Zinedine Zidane's potential interest in coaching the French national team.

Le Graet said in an interview with RMC last week that he "wouldn't even have taken his call" when asked whether Zidane, a World Cup winner as a player and an all-time France great, had rung him to express an interest in taking over as coach from Didier Deschamps.

Deschamps, who led France to World Cup glory in 2018 and oversaw their run to last month's final which they lost on penalties to Argentina, recently signed a new contract to stay as France coach until 2026.

Le Graet, whose mandate runs until 2024, has been replaced on an interim basis by Philippe Diallo, a vice-president of the organisation.

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