“Unfortunately, I will not play this World Cup in these conditions.” The phrase, pronounced on February 24 by the captain of the blue, fell like a jug of cold water. That day, Wendie Renard announced that she was leaving the French women’s team five months before the international competition. A cry of alarm that was joined by four other players and that ended with the dismissal on Thursday of the selector Corinne Diacre. The complaints of French footballers highlight increasingly global demands: raise the level of demand in the national teams and be able to compete with better conditions.
In his message posted on Twitter, Renard, 32 years old and with 142 international caps, did not clarify the specific reasons for his departure, but he did give some clues, mentioning that the current system was “very far from the demands required by the highest level”. . Like the 15 players who resigned from the Spanish soccer team, they said his departure was necessary to preserve his “mental health.”
A few hours later, forwards Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani, both from PSG, also left the ship. In separate statements, the first detected that it was no longer “in tune with the management of the French team and the values transmitted” and the second requested that “profound” and “necessary” changes be applied to wear the tricolor shirt again.
The movement continued the next day with the support of defenders Griedge Mbock and Perle Morroni, who denounced the gap between their ambitions and the group’s management on Instagram. Morroni, 25 years old and who has not been summoned since last April by the now former coach Diacre, stressed that she had personally suffered from this situation.
The French dissidents’ announcement received the support of other footballers, such as the Norwegian Ada Hegerberg, Renard’s teammate at Olympique de Lyon and who in 2019 resigned from participating in the World Cup in France in protest of the inequality that reigns in the Women’s Football. The American world champions Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan also supported the French, as they did a few months earlier with the Spanish players.
In a statement, the UNFP, the main union of professional footballers in France, used the “extremely courageous cry of alarm” of the blue about the gap that existed between the organization of the team, its expectations and the resources assigned to meet the high-level requirements.
“We always, always have to fight”
In the interviews she gave after the announcement, Renard, who is also the captain of Olympique de Lyon, did not expressly pronounce the name of Diacre, with whom she had many rocks since her appointment in 2017. She took the captain’s bracelet from her coach, despite his long experience in the team. She got it back in 2021, to everyone’s surprise.
“I have the impression that for us, women and high-level athletes, it is complicated. We always, always have to fight, although that means reaching difficult individual situations”, lamented the player born on the Caribbean island of Martinique at RMC Sport after stepping aside.
In other statements to the TF1 chain, they insisted on the need to increase the demand and the work and recorded that the crisis was latent. “For years we have wanted [la situación] It improves for the whole world, that more means are given and when you see that other countries pass you by, you think that you missed something”, he remarked.
The French case, like the Spanish one, highlights the criticism of a group of players towards the tactical approaches of the coaches and their methodologies and ways of managing the group. In recent weeks, the press recognized, for example, that Renard had questioned experimenting with a new tactical system due to lack of time.
Unlike on the peninsula, the French Football Federation (FFF) took action on the matter at the end of February, when interim president Philippe Diallo commissioned a report on the situation of the team. His conclusions showed “irreversible dysfunctions” in the team, so Diacre’s mission at the head of the team had to end.
Diallo, in charge of the federation since the resignation of Noël Le Graët – accused of sexual harassment – stressed the “rupture” between Diacre and the players and the need to take advantage of the relief to give “a new global ambition in favor of women’s football”. and the selection.
The defeat of 2019: a turning point
The coach, criticized for methods considered authoritarian, was fired without having led the French team to success, despite having a talented generation of players and the results of French clubs in the Champions League.
In 2022, France stayed in the semifinals of the European Championship against Germany (2-1). And three years earlier, in 2019, the team stayed in the quarterfinals after losing against the United States (2-1) in the World Cup organized in the French country. It was a turning point that prompted awareness among the players. After the contest, the exporter of the blue Sarah Bouhaddi put her international career on hold and declared that “winning a title with this team” seemed “impossible” to her.
Diacre also began to distance herself from other players, such as Gaetane Thiney, who in an interview with Agence France Presse asked her to modernize her management and stated: “women’s football needs to move forward.” The Paris FC midfielder, who has not been called up for the national team since 2019, has raised her support for those who raised her voice and recorded that a few years ago, some players screamed for help.
“The girls can’t take it anymore,” Kadidiatou Diani reiterated at the beginning of March on TF1. “I think there is a real lack of professionalism in the French team, the staff is quite limited nowadays. It is the coach who decides, there is no second coach or a specific coach for the forwards (…) ”, she criticized. The PSG forward also included other deficiencies: “At the beginning, access to treatments was almost prohibited. You had to be really injured to get a massage or a normal treatment session like you’d get at a club. It’s not normal,” she said.
The FFF has not yet announced who will replace Diacre. But in the meantime, she hopes that the way used by the players to express their criticism – through messages on the networks – will not be repeated.
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