Sports | Noël Le Graët, the rise and fall of the “Menhir” of French football
From his debut in charge of En-Avant Guingamp in 1972 to his resignation as president of the French Federation (FFF) on Wednesday, Noel Le Graet has had a long career as a leader in French football.
Le Graët 1, Bernard Tapie 0
An industrialist in the food industry, Noël Le Graet came to the world of football in 1972 when he became president of En-Avant Guingamp (EAG). From regional level to League 2.
Nearly 20 years later, Breton was well established in the most popular sport in France and in 1991 became president of the National League (LNF) – the forerunner of the LFP – where he stayed for nine years and gained a reputation as a strong athlete. the president.
Le Graet first began to clean up club management by creating the Department of National Management Control (DNCG), which was responsible for monitoring the financial health of French clubs.
Above all, the former mayor of Guingamp (1995-2008) falsified his image by opposing Bernard Tapie, the then president of Olympique de Marseille. Proposed by Le Graet, the League will “file a complaint against X for all the exposure” in the 1993 Valenciennes-OM match-fixing case.
This relationship caused a scandal and caused OM to be relegated to the second division at the end of the 1993/94 season. First of all, a personal duel with Tapie begins.
“I believe that Mr. Le Graet has been waging a war from the start that has nothing to do with football. So I will fight this personally“, Tapie announces.
When Tapie is banned from any function at the club, it is the president of the LNF who wins and asserts his authority over French football.
On the strength of this experience, Le Graet became vice-president of the French Football Federation (FFF) in 2005, five years after leaving the League. It was in the presidency that he signed one of his best shots: a lucrative deal with American equipment supplier Nike.
“The best deal in the world“, once hailed the NLG for a record 42 million euros per year, making the French team the highest-earning national team at the time. Through this transaction, he demonstrated his business acumen, began a spectacular financial recovery, and became the highest paid player in French sports. to one of its functions: “3F” offered itself an argument to access the president.
He succeeded in 2011, but a year after the Knysna World Cup fiasco in South Africa, French football was in crisis.
Now nicknamed “Prez,” the FFF allows itself to enrich itself by taking control of the marketing rights associated with the Blues, the real goose that lays the golden egg.
But he now has to restore the image of the Blues together with the sponsors. In 2012, after the failed coaching tenure of Laurent Blanc, Le Graet selected Didier Deschamps, the start of a tandem that lasted more than a decade.
It’s another winning run: DD reaches the final of Euro 2016 in France (defeat to Portugal), then wins the ultimate trophy: the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Deschamps is congratulated and Le Graet is reinforced.
Disputes and twilight
After the peak of 2018, the decline begins. “Manhir” loses its ability to communicate by missing out on certain media organizations. First of all, he calls not to stop matches when homophobic chants are heard, he believes that “It’s not the same thing“That racism, in 2019, then claims racism”absent or little“After one year in football.
In 2021, he sparked further controversy by declaring the tension between Bleus coach Corin Deacon and his players: “They haven’t lost a match (since Mondial 2019, editor’s note), so let them pull their hair out, I don’t care.“
His third full term as head of the FFF is also marred by a scandal: former employees, in anonymous statements, accuse him of sexist behavior and inappropriate gestures. After that, the Ministry of Sports starts the inspection.
The Blues are back in the World Cup finals in 2022, but Le Graet is not capitalizing on the momentum by single-handedly deciding to extend Deschamps until 2026 and sparking outrage after inappropriate comments towards Zinedine Zidane.
In the process, agent Sonia Souid denounces his sexist behavior. “She told me very clearly, face to face, in her apartment, that if I wanted her to help me (promote women’s football, editor’s note) I would have to go to the pan.“, he claims.