We experienced more serene preparation. As the World Cup in Qatar approaches, the French team and the French Football Federation are in turmoil. Blame it on the many scandals surrounding the team in recent weeks. Of the Pogba case to accusations of sexual assault within the federation, to the case of Kylian Mbappé’s image rights, we talk about everything except football in Clairefontaine.
Beyond the Pogba case, it is above all revelations within the federation who have been talking about, since the publication of an incendiary article by So Foot on September 8th. President Noel Le Graet is described as a manager overwhelmed by events. Testimonies on condition of anonymity depict him as having “lost the thread”, “less lively than before”, “in complete decay, unable to work”. The magazine mainly evokes, on the strength of anonymous testimonies, the sending by Le Graët of SMS of a sexual nature to employees of the FFF. Several women even resigned because they felt “sexually harassed, but also morally”.
And then there is alsothe Hamraoui casethis former PSG player attacked last November with iron bars, and whose teammate Aminata Diallo has just been indicted, suspected of having ordered her attack.
The climate surrounding the gathering of the Blues is therefore somewhat explosive. What challenge several observers of French football, starting with Vincent Duluc. In his editorial of the daythe journalist from L’Equipe does not hide his concern as the kick-off of the World Cup will be given in two months sharp. “Never, not even in 2010, had the French team advanced towards a World Cup in this spoiled and deleterious atmosphere, so uncertain of the forces it will be able to muster, overloaded showcase of a house which is not more held, or more as it should be”he writes, referring to the internal quarrels within the FFF. “In this distressed setting, the magic of the World Cup is struggling to break through the clouds, two months before the opening of the competition.”
Like a perfume of pre-Knysna
On Monday, when we were hoping to finally talk about the pitch, it was the Mbappé affair that came to shake up the Blues. “There will soon be no words to describe what the direction of this Federation is”protests Daniel Riolo, in a column on RMC Sports. “While waiting for Deschamps to build his list for the World Cup between injured players and players retained with their lawyers, we therefore learn that Mbappé refuses to participate in the commercial operations of the FFF. It is not for lack of having warned that there was a problem. It’s been four years now since the player’s family indicated that they wanted to review the image rights agreement. At this stage, I don’t care who is right or wrong, what the boss does? Or the boss? Le Graët and Hardouin have left the file to rot, which is blowing up in their face today.”
On the side ofEurosportwe also admit that it is the “worst comeback imaginable” for the Blues. “We are not far from thinking that this gathering and this pre-World Cup is not comparable to any other during the DD decade. The affair of the sextape had been unveiled in November 2015 and, at the time of the “Euro, thanks to the results of the Blues and an offensive breath of fresh air, it had faded. To find traces of such a turbulent World Cup preparation, we must go back to 2010 and before Knysna. Far be it from us idea of comparing and thinking of the same epilogue. But the progress towards the World Cup also looks like a way of the cross.”
As for Didier Deschamps, he admitted last week that it was not “not the most peaceful climate” he has known to prepare for such a deadline. “It’s not ideal but I have known others, with my staff I am focused on what is happening on the pitch”, he advanced. In the meantime, the coach must deal with a cascade of injuries. Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas and Théo Hernandez, N’Golo Kanté, Kingsley Coman, Karim Benzema, Adrien Rabiot, Lucas Digne and Ibrahima Konaté are all out of Nations League matches against Austria and Denmark. Suffice to say that “DD” will not be able to prepare much with its executives for the Qatari World Cup …