Pushed out of the French Football Federation, its president, Noël Le Graët, will bounce back to FIFA, where he will be in charge, among other things, of relations with African federations.
The conversion was quick. After being splashed by several cases of harassment - sexual and moral - and sexism while he was still the boss of the French Football Federation (FFF), Noël Le Graët resigned and directly joined FIFA, where his friend Gianni Infantino found him a golden position. A godsend for the much maligned 81-year-old man. A report from an audit mission indicated, a month ago, that Noël Le Graët “no longer has the legitimacy necessary to administer” the FFF. On February 28, he therefore resigned and was “appointed to FIFA by Gianni Infantino (…) because of his skills, his expertise and his experience”, indicated Éric Borghini, member of the comex of the FFF.
What we did not know at the time was that Le Graët was joining a Parisian office which, in addition to its mission to consolidate FIFA's relations with France, aims to forge links between all the federations Francophones and the international body. With the exception of a few federations on other continents – Haiti, for example – it is therefore essentially Africa that will be the playground of Noël Le Graët, who will have to manage the development programs financed by FIFA.
A surprising choice. But which was actually planned for a long time. Asked a year ago by RFI, Noël Le Graët said that France “needed to do things together” with Africa. He then warned: “FIFA is creating an office in Paris, of which I will be responsible. The African Federations will be able to come and discuss, we will make sure that Clairefontaine (the training center of the France team, editor's note) is available for training. We will try to do better with the African continent”.
Unwavering support for Infantino
If he then claimed to receive “often presidents, African national teams”, the appointment of Le Graët to this post questions several specialists in African football. “Choosing him to talk about the development of African football, I do not quite understand. I think it would have made more sense to appoint someone who is familiar with the issues facing African football. So an African ”, indicates for example the Senegalese Saer Dieye Seck, president of the Diambars Institute and former president of the Senegalese Professional Football League (LSFP), to Jeune Afrique.
Especially since, in addition to the accusations of harassment, Noël Le Graët had already caused controversy by declaring, at the end of 2020, that "the racist phenomenon in sport, and in football in particular, does not exist or hardly exists". Something to shock, especially since placing the former boss of the FFF in such a strategic position seems inappropriate when he is accused of serious offenses.
But Gianni Infantino generally knows how to thank his supporters. The Italian-Swiss had been able to benefit from the support of Noël Le Graët when he was elected head of FIFA in 2016 and, in recent times, despite the systematic opposition of UEFA President Alexander Ceferin to the proposals of the boss of FIFA – as when he proposed a World Cup every two years – Le Graët has always been behind Infantino. It was well worth a position of responsibility…