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Governing Bodies

French federation chief Le Graet forced to step down after Zidane controversies

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French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has been forced to stand down just weeks after France’s defeat in the World Cup final following a series of controversies, the body said on Wednesday.

The decision was taken following an emergency meeting of the FFF in Paris.

“Noel Le Graet, in agreement with the FFF executive committee gathered today in Paris, has chosen to step down from his role as president until the completion of the audit performed by the sports ministry,” the federation said.

Le Graet, whose mandate was due to run until 2024, had faced calls to resign after what he admitted were “clumsy remarks” about Zinedine Zidane’s potential interest in coaching the French national team.

The 81-year-old, who has been president of the FFF since 2011, had said in an interview with radio station RMC on Sunday that he “wouldn’t even have taken his call” when asked whether Zidane, a World Cup winner as a player and an all-time France great, had rung him to express an interest in taking over as coach from Didier Deschamps.

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Deschamps, who led France to World Cup glory in 2018 and oversaw their run to the Dec 18 final which they lost on penalties to Argentina, last weekend signed a new contract to stay as France coach until 2026.

The storm around Zidane followed a series of accusations of mistreatment by employees at the FFF, which led to the French government launching an audit of the federation and Le Graet being summoned to attend a hearing.

Le Graet denied those accusations, but on Tuesday his behaviour again came under the spotlight with a female football agent making further accusations of unwanted sexual advances by the veteran administrator in an interview with sports daily L’Equipe.

France’s Sports Minister, Amelie Oudea-Castera, had made clear that she wanted action taken against Le Graet when she called on the FFF’s executive committee to “take responsibility” when speaking to reporters on Monday.

With committee members taking the view that Le Graet’s position had become untenable, he has been replaced on an interim basis by Philippe Diallo, a vice-president of the organisation.

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In addition the FFF’s director general, Florence Hardouin, has been suspended from her role.

Le Graet is a former socialist mayor of the small Brittany town of Guingamp who later oversaw the rise of the local football team that became a top-flight force during his time as club president.

He is the second high-profile French sporting administrator to be forced to step down in recent weeks.

French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte said he would offer to resign in December after being handed a two-year suspended prison sentence on corruption charges. 

Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Governing Bodies

Tinubu backs Amaju’s FIFA Council re-election bid

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Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick has secured the backing of Nigeria’s President,  Bola Tinubu in his bid to get another term in office as one of Africa’s representatives in FIFA Council.

The 37-member FIFA  Council is the main decision making body of the organisation in the intervals of FIFA Congress. 

Pinnick is the third Nigerian to ever sit in the FIFA Council after Oyo Orok Oyo (1980-1988) and Dr. Amos Adamu (2006-2010).

Pinnick was elected into the council on 12 March 2021. He is bidding for re-election in 2025 when the current term lapses.

According to a media release from the State House and signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity,

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President Bola Tinubu expresses strong support for Nigeria’s bid for re-election into the FIFA Council

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Governing Bodies

Save Our Soccer, African Sports Journalists plead with Motsepe

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

An SOS has been sent by the International Sports Press – Africa (AIPS -Africa) to the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Motsepe to save the soul of African soccer.

 The sports writers’ body has written an open letter to Motsepe on the need to do more to save African football.

The letter, written Monday in Dakar, is premised on the recurring scheduling problems that “have made CAF a victim of collateral damage from the “war” between UEFA and FIFA.”

Continuing in the letter signed by AIPS-Africa President, Abdoulaye Thiam, the sports writers’ body noted that UEFA contributed to overloading of the international calendar with the creation of the Nations League, which is played on FIFA dates

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Owing to the congested international calendar, football competitions in Africa have been major victims.

AIPS wrote: …”the stuttering and uncertainties surrounding the programming of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) leave many wondering about the future of our continent’s most prestigious competition, which is struggling to find a place in the international calendar.

“Added to this, the external influences and the overload of the international calendar, modelled on the European interests, increases the scepticism surrounding the survival of CAF’s most lucrative and economically viable tournament.

“As a result, therefore, it is rare, if not impossible, for an African team to find a European team to spar with, except when they share the same group in a World Cup draw every four years.     

“As for FIFA, in addition to the Arab World Cup, it has also created the Club World Cup. Worse still, it decided to stage the latter competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025, a period initially chosen by Morocco to host the AFCON 2025. In fact, Cairo’s dependence on Zurich enabled FIFA’s latest competition to happily shake up the 67-year-old African Cup of Nations.”

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Also affected by the global football calendar are the scheduling of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and African Women’s Champions League.

The journalists recalled that the changing of AFCON tournaments from the even-ending years to the odd  was to avert situations of clashing with World Cup years and to avert exhaustion on players.

The situation is such that scheduling of tournaments in Africa is now determined by compromise reached with UEFA and FIFA.

AIPS averred that “it is important to deconstruct the image of Africa as a prominent stakeholder in the global game with huge voice of 54 member associations and votes being presented as an electoral cattle-tank, to be adequately given their fair share during debates and dialogues with FIFA, by offering constructive solutions with a view to accelerating a reform of the international calendar.

“It is therefore expected from CAF leaders to ensure respect for African Football which is full of great administrators and players alike…Mr. President (Motsepe), you claim to be a disciple of Nelson Mandela and a well respectable man. A man of principles. So do kindly refuse and remain our inspiration than anything else.”  

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Governing Bodies

Breaking! CAF’s axe falls on Eto’o

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Confederation of African Football (CAF) has imposed a fine of $200 thousand on Samuel Eto’o Fils, a former international footballer and President of Fédération Camerounaise de Football (‘’FECAFOOT’’).

  The fine is imposed on the FECAFOOT president for violating the principles of ethics, integrity and sportsmanship as provided in Article 2  paragraph 3 of the CAF Statutes.

He is found to have violated the said article by signing a Brand Ambassador contract with the company 1XBET in exchange for remuneration.

 He however escape sanction in a bigger allegation of match fixing and manipulation.

Eto’o faced charges of alleged manipulation of football matches and violating the principles of ethics and integrity.

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The Disciplinary Board ruled that there was insufficient proof to find him and Valentin Nkwain guilty of match manipulation.

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