His reprieve only lasted ten days. In the hot seat since February 28, Corinne Deacon will no longer sit on the Blue bench. Four years after her quarter-finalist career in France, the tricolor coach will not play her second World Cup this summer at the head of the French women's football team.
Meeting on Thursday March 9, the executive committee (comex) of the French Football Federation (FFF) decided to "put an end to the mission" of the one whose contract had been extended until the summer of 2024 by President Noël Le Graët, now fallen. The body followed the recommendations of the working group - made up of Marc Keller, Aline Riera, Laura Georges and Jean-Michel Aulas - which had been specially tasked with working on the case of Corinne Deacon. And it was the interim president of the FFF, Philippe Diallo, who made the final decision. In its press release, the FFF makes "the finding of a very significant divide with executive players" and "a discrepancy with the requirements of the very high level".
Former international, Laure Lepailleur, interviewed by Le Monde, was not confident on Tuesday as to the fate of the ex-coach of Clermont in Ligue 2: "In the current situation, a few months from a World Cup, that seems difficult for Corinne Deacon to remain at the head of the team, explained the manager of the women's section of Le Havre. If only there was only one player involved. But since it affects several players who are also of colossal importance..."
Since the three successive warning shots that targeted Corinne Deacon on Friday, February 24, the situation had indeed become untenable. First to shoot, captain Wendie Renard announces her withdrawal from Les Bleues and her non-participation in the next World Cup, followed in stride by the two PSG strikers Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani. The three stars blame their coach for a management unsuited to the requirements of the high level and the ambitions of a national team.
A little over four months before the Australian World Cup (July 20-August 20), these defections then place the FFF in front of a dilemma: to separate from Corinne Deacon, but to create a precedent by giving the impression of having ceded power to the players, or keep it, but appear insensitive to the demands and the discomfort of the footballers?
The first option is immediately necessary within the comex, but the body decides to save time.
To follow a procedure, not to appear to act in a hurry and at least to save appearances, a working group is therefore formed. In recent days, the latter has conducted several auditions with different players. And it is not difficult to guess the content. On Sunday, during the "Téléfoot" program on TF1, Kadidiatou Diani gave a public overview:
“We have reached a point of no return. I would say breakup. It is important to have something new, quite simply. The girls can't take it anymore, even if they don't necessarily express themselves. »
Especially since the dialogue has meanwhile never resumed between the rebels and the coach. “The French Federation must make arrangements, we have raised a cry of alarm, she continued. We really lack professionalism, with a fairly small staff, it is the coach who decides on her staff. »
In this Thursday's press release, the FFF also takes care to warn the players that "the way used (...) to express their criticisms was no longer acceptable in the future". The body also offers a novelty in the governance of the Blue with the establishment of a "complementary mission between the comex and the coach. »
Late media counterattack
Corinne Deacon was also auditioned for two hours on Tuesday March 7. Until now silent, she chose to make her voice heard through a press release sent to Agence France-Presse on the eve of the comex. But his media counterattack was probably too late.
"In view of the shameful media outburst of recent days, I nevertheless wish to publicly reaffirm that I am fully determined to carry out my mission and, above all, to bring honor to France at the next World Cup," he said. she shouted. The boss of Les Bleues also spoke of "a destabilization operation" and "a smear campaign which astounds with its violence and dishonesty".
Perhaps an indirect allusion to the Aminata Diallo affair, this former PSG player, close to Katoto and Diani, who is accused of having organized the attack on her ex-teammate, the international Kheira Hamraoui. Diallo, now a player for Levante, Spain, is indicted in this case, and therefore presumed innocent. Since then, whether at PSG or in the France team, relations between Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Kadidiatou Diani and Kheira Hamraoui have been strained. The return of the latter to the selection during the Tournoi de France in February – just before the outbreak of the maelstrom which carried away Corinne Deacon – did not help matters.
It does not take more for, in the entourage of Deacon, the thesis of a set up is put forward, based on listening to the judicial police of Versailles carried out in May 2022 where we hear Diallo threaten the coach during a discussion with his adviser: "Corinne, don't worry, it's planned. (…) Don’t worry, she will jump quickly too, they will understand, she has to get out too. Nothing allows for the moment to link the two events. Especially since the Lyonnaise Wendie Renard, who launched the sling, is a priori foreign to this Parisian context.
The question of his succession
Now that the fate of Corinne Deacon is decided, the question of her succession arises. And the FFF will have to act quickly to choose its or its replacement. Unlike Le Graët's autocratic procedure, this decision should, according to an internal source, be taken collectively. Philippe Diallo instructed the special commission "to audition, as soon as possible, the candidates for the position and to formulate its recommendations".
In a month, Les Bleues play two friendlies: against Colombia (April 7) and against Canada (April 11). According to a source familiar with the matter, "many coaches have already advanced their pawns."
Ex-coach of Lyonnaises and Parisiennes, currently in Bordeaux, Patrice Lair has declared himself interested. The names of Gérard Prêcheur (working at PSG), Sandrine Soubeyrand (coach of Paris FC) or Sonia Bompastor (coach of OL) also come back. Just like that, more surprising, of a media coach, the coach of Saudi Arabia Hervé Renard. This adventurer of men's football (Morocco, Senegal, Zambia or Ivory Coast) is a selection specialist, winner of two African Cups of Nations. Fallout of Argentina, future world champion, during his first match in Qatar, in November 2022, with the Saudis, Renard would be interested in the adventure, according to information from RMC Sport.
A choice that could be unifying to create momentum before the World Cup. “He is known for his management skills and it is a very important element in the management of a selection, even more so in the current context, analyzes Laure Lepailleur. Associating his particular profile with an assistant who is an expert in women's football could work. »
Despite the turbulence and uncertainties, Laure Lepailleur hopes that French women's football will come out on top of this delicate situation: "We can talk about tight timing in relation to the World Cup, but if something were to happen, it is better that it is upstream than during. Les Bleues may have avoided their Knysna.