For several months now, the French Football Federation has been in contention. In addition to the question of the image rights of the players of the tricolor selection, which is still under discussion internally even if the conclusions should arrive quickly, the revelations about the many abuses and other dysfunctions within the governing body of French football, two years ago, had the effect of a bomb. Noël Le Graët and Florence Hardouin, the two figureheads of the FFF, could also find themselves a little more in the eye of the storm after the publication of the latest indiscretions of the World on the subject.
Indeed, as the World Cup is fast approaching, the new revelations of our colleagues from the Worldwho had access to the report carried out by the private consulting firm full meaning in September 2020 and commissioned by the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, should further agitate the management of the French Football Federation and weigh down the atmosphere which reigns at the Parisian headquarters of the latter. This confidential document has also never been fully disclosed to employees, but also to federal elected officials. Nineteen pages long and entitled “Investigation within the management team following several complaints of harassment”, the latter confirms in particular the abuses, dysfunctions and violent conflicts which have plagued the institution for several years now.
The director general of the FFF in the crosshairs
The climate would have been particularly tense after the world coronation of the Blues in Russia in 2018. The post-World Cup would even be the tipping point which would correspond to the decay within the management of the French body. The deleterious atmosphere that has since settled in dates precisely from that time, at the very moment when the president of the French Football Federation was treating his leukemia. “At that time, Florence Hardouin would have freed herself a little from the authority of the president. This period will be characterized by a rapprochement of the DG with the France team and a distancing of the latter from the Federation both physically and managerially. This shift is badly experienced by some, who see in this position a clumsy way of asserting themselves and taking the light from the national coach and the France team. wrote Plein Sens on this subject.
In the wake of the hearings carried out within the framework of this report, the private consulting firm spoke of a “deleterious climate confirmed by the management team as a whole”, of a “situation deemed untenable” and even of “relationships definitely damaged. The high point of this document is the confirmation of an open and particularly harsh conflict within the management of the French Football Federation itself, which concerns five directors at the time (Pierre-Arnaud Custody, the human resources director of the FFF, Alexandre Chamoret the communications director, Marc Varin the financial director, Armelle Kus Saint-Supéry the information systems director and Pierre Samsonoff, the director of the Amateur Football League) – three of whom left the FFF in 2021 – and the general manager. This conflict would have its origins during a trip by plane after the tricolor victory against Argentina (4-3) in the quarter-finals of the Russian World Cup during which “outrageous behavior” took place.
Florence Hardouin’s management techniques called into question
The climate then became even more tense between the various directors of the French Federation until the point of no return in September 2019, a year before the report, after a new clash during a meeting between Jean Lapeyre, the legal director of the FFF, and Marc Varin, the financial director. The latter would have been insulted by his counterpart, which would have favored the “disintegration of labor relations in the management team.” Mr. Varin was also already complaining that the case related to the complaint for “sexual assault”, of which he was accused a few months earlier, “was blown up and instrumentalized to bring discredit on him.” Serious accusations which nevertheless confirm the heavy conflicts which rot relations.
While Florence Hardouin had refused to participate in the mediation proposed by Noël Le Graët following the incidents that occurred during the July 2018 flight, thirteen directors sent a letter to express their “fed up”, and denounce “managerial behavior unacceptable” and “professional denigration” such as when the general manager asked the president to leave Mr. Custody and Mrs. Kus Saint-Supéry. “For some, Ms. Hardouin’s style is at the limit of acceptable, or even exceeds what is acceptable”according to the associate director of Plein Sens, Eric Molière. “This type of management cannot in any way be encouraged by the Federation. It therefore appears that an unambiguous reminder should be sent to Ms. Hardouin. It also seems necessary to see a written commitment formulated, here again without ambiguity, on the part of Mrs. Hardouin, in order to switch to a managerial style based on benevolence, on the support of directors (and not systematically critical) and on concerted and non-arbitrary decisions”concludes the listener.
The testimonies collected during the audit are unanimous and point in this direction. The latter confirm “a managerial disaster” while “nobody dares to intervene in the meetings; she always threatens to fire everyone.” “Ms. Hardouin’s managerial style obviously did not help with conflict resolution. He probably amplified them”, even concluded the report. Despite these serious accusations, the general manager is still in place, but the bridges seem definitively cut with her collaborators as with her president, Noël Le Graët, in particular. Here is the atmosphere that has reigned at the headquarters of the French Football Federation for several years now. Let’s hope, however, that these new revelations do not disrupt the preparation of the French team for the next World Cup in Qatar. which begins in a few days (November 20 – December 18).