Noël Le Graët stepped down as president of the French Football Federation on February 28. The former Breton businessman will have directed the FFF for a good decade, with the victory of “Les Bleus” in the 2018 World Cup that will remain as the pinnacle of his reign. Following his resignation, Philippe Diallo took over as interim president.
With information from Farid Achache and AFP
Born into a working-class family in the Brittany region, and a teacher in his youth, Noël Le Graët was mayor of Guingamp for the Socialist Party from 1995 to 2008. He was president of the En avant Guingamp club between 1972 and 1991 and from 2002 to 2011, taking it from the regional level to Ligue 1 and winning the French Cup in 2009. He also chaired the Professional Football League (LFP) between 1991 and 2000. Later, from 2005, he was vice president of the French Football Federation (FFF).
Farewell to the “Menhir”
The “Menhir”, as it is known, has also made its fortune in the food industry, again in Guingamp. In 1984 he created a company specializing in frozen products and seafood, among others, which today employs about 700 people and is run by his daughter.
Removed from his post since January 11, Noël Le Graët will have spent more than 10 years at the helm of the FFF since he was elected president in 2011. He was re-elected in 2021 for a fourth term, with more than 73% of the vote .
He arrived after the fiasco of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and righted the ship to the second star of “Les Bleus” in Russia 2018. In Qatar 2022, the French team lost in the final against Argentina. Under his reign, the FFF grew rich by taking control of the marketing rights associated with “Les Bleus”, a veritable goose that laid the golden eggs.
But the character ended up annoying, even in his own circle, such as when he considered that racism “does not exist or barely exists” in the world of soccer, or when he stated that French soccer players could continue “pulling their hair out” as long as gain.
Throughout his career as French soccer manager, he has sparked numerous controversies with his little phrases and outbursts. His unconditional support for Qatar before the start of the competition also caused people to be shocked, as were his comments about Zinedine Zidane and his inability to manage a national team.
Since then, some files related to the leader’s antics have come to light, which were added to those that were already on the table. Several women testified against him, denouncing inappropriate jokes, biased text messages, profanity and even sexual harassment.
Following an investigation by the magazine So Foot, which pointed to numerous dysfunctions emanating from the FFF, the Ministry of Sports had ordered an administrative audit in September 2022, following allegations of sexual harassment and, more broadly, problematic management in the FFF. Highly criticized by the audit mission, Noël Le Graët ended up leaving and lost the support of his executive committee.
Philippe Diallo, interim boss
The FFF has appointed Philippe Diallo interim head of the federation following the resignation of Noël Le Graët, whose term ended in 2024. At 59, he is a man with little notoriety, but a good connoisseur of the players and the mysteries of football for three decades. Diallo led the Union of Professional Soccer Clubs (UCPF), an employers’ union, for nearly 30 years, and played a major role in player transfer reforms.
The son of a Senegalese boxing champion, he entered the FFF by joining Noël Le Graët’s list when the Briton was re-elected in March 2021. General treasurer within the federation’s Executive Committee (Comex), Diallo rose on the organizational chart upon becoming Deputy Vice President in December 2021.
Graduated in Public Law and Commercial Law, Diallo has international experience as sole judge in the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber since 2003. Since 2013, he has directed the Social Council of the Sports Movement (Cosmos), an employers’ organization that brings together several thousand of structures: clubs, leagues, event organizers, etc.
Now on the front line, with an interim mandate extended until the Federal Assembly in June, or even until December 2024, it will be necessary to see if Philippe Diallo manages to establish himself definitively as number one of the French Football Federation.