Can the Ministry of Sports decide the fate of the presidents of the federation?

Noel Le Graet has a meeting at the headquarters of the French Football Federation (FFF) on Wednesday 11 January at 11:00. On the agenda, Zinedine Zidane and an extraordinary executive committee to be called to explain himself after his comments on sexual harassment accusations.

“I don’t care, he can go wherever he wants”On Sunday, January 8, the leader of the year 81 questioned the future of Zinedine Zidane, he would not be. “I didn’t even pick up the phone” if he was interested in the position of coach of the Blues.

The controversial former mayor of Guingamp (Côtes-d’Armor) apologized in a press release the following day. On Tuesday, public accusations by the player’s agent Sonia Souid of urgent and trending calls, messages and dinner invitations from Noël Le Graet between 2013 and 2017 extended the president’s list of complaints. “3F”.

Even before these latest statements, Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra began Monday’s press conference with a violent accusation about the words he said to the FFF president about Zinedine Zidane, but.

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“He trained us for these road trips. I think that the importance of racism and homophobia phenomena, which sometimes shock societies in football, is in our minds., – the minister reminded. The latter emphasized that the head of state was Emmanuel Macron “disappointed” and “unequal” With the latest statement made by “NLG”.

The FFF executive committee is the only one that can arbitrate

However, in his speech, the minister was careful not to call for his resignation for a simple reason. Article L. 131-1 of the sports code reminds that the political power does not have the possibility to dismiss the president of the sports federation: “The purpose of sports federations is to organize the practice of one or more sports. They operate independently. »

This is the reason why, in another federation, rugby (FFR), the Minister of Sports Bernard Laporte set conditions for him to remain in the presidency after being convicted of “passive corruption”, “influence trading” and illegal seizure “in his interests”, without receiving his resignation.

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The ministry’s intervention within the FFF would also draw the ire of the International Football Federation (FIFA), which prohibits any state intervention. “If we imagine that the French minister of sports dismisses the president of the FFF, [la France] may be deprived of participation in the next world championship. If the president of the French Rugby Federation resigns, the country could be excluded from hosting the World Cup, which is scheduled to be held in 2023.explain The world Mickaël Terrien is a professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Public Administration (Idheap) at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland).

The FFF statute is also very clear; the dismissal procedure can be initiated only by a vote of the federal assembly. At a press conference held on Monday, the minister instructed the executive committee to hold a meeting. “Take Action” of “bankruptcy” in the role of the president of the federation “representation”.

There is no power but pressure

Faced with a dysfunctional federation, political power is largely about coercive power. As for the FFF, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra’s move began long before the revelations about Zinedine Zidane. The Ministry of Sports has decided to launch an audit and control mission within the FFF following the publication by the magazine on September 16, 2022. SoFoot An investigation by Noël Le Graët that revealed multiple dysfunctions within it, starting with the sending of sexually explicit text messages to employees (according to anonymous testimony).

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The Ministry of Sports has other means of action. He can withdraw his approval by disaffiliating the federation “his legal existence”, emphasizes Jean-Loup Chappelet, former executive director of the International Olympic Committee and professor emeritus of public administration at Idheap University of Lausanne. In practice, a federation that is no longer recognized by the State will no longer receive any state subsidies and will have to operate without its technical staff. “It’s a bit like an atomic bomb, even if you have it, you don’t want to use it”, Mr. Chappelet defines.

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However, the ministry has twice resorted to this ultimate weapon in smaller federations than the two behemoths that are FFF and FFR, it is true. In 1998, after more than five years of financial and structural crisis in the French Weightlifting Federation, Marie-Georges Buffet, then Minister of Youth and Sports, informed its president Bernard Garcia that the approval ministry had been taken away. One of France’s oldest sports federations, founded in 1914, has thus lost its anti-doping disciplinary rule.

Noel Le Graet’s mandate is until 2024

More recently, in 2020, then-Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu asked to leave. When the body of Didier Gailhaguet, president of the Ice Sports Federation, was affected by the sexual violence scandal. The “godfather” of skating was forced to resign.

“When the ministry announced that it wanted to fire Didier Gailhaguet, it was suppressed by the body, because the economic model of this small federation depends on direct and indirect subsidies, such as the provision of sports technical consultants by the state. [fonctionnaires]it is vital to the organization of the federationMickaël Therrien explains. For the FFF and FFR, direct subsidies are not so important, they have the financial means to operate without a ministry through television rights and especially through ticket sales. »

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The possible departure of Noël Le Graet, who is elected until 2024, can therefore only come from himself or from the executive committee, which comes from a list presented by a large majority of its members during the last re-election in 2021. In the event of NLG’s resignation, FFF vice-president Philippe Diallo, who is close to FFF general manager Florence Hardouin in the cold weather, would become interim president before a candidate is appointed. As part of the Executive Committee.

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