Corinne Diacre has been dismissed as head coach of France’s women’s national team four months ahead of the World Cup. The French Football Federation (FFF) announced the news Thursday, saying that the “dysfunctions observed seem… irreversible.”
Diacre had been the subject of heavy criticism from team veterans for years. Notably, goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi announced her retirement in 2020 after citing problems with team management. Gaetene Thiney accused Diacre of using outdated tactics and Thiney was immediately cut from the team. Amandine Henry was an outspoken critic of Diacre and has been snubbed by the national team since 2020 despite continuing to earn accolades at the club level.
The current situation reached a boiling point, however, when captain Wendie Renard announced on Feb. 24 that she would not participate in the World Cup because the “current system” was “far from the requirements of the highest level.” Shortly after Renard’s announcement, Kadidiatou Dianai and Marie-Antoinette Katoto followed Renard’s lead and also declared they would not participate in the upcoming tournament.
Renard and Diacre had previously clashed, with the head coach stripping the defender of her original captaincy after a disappointing 2017 EUROs. Renard eventually reassumed the armband.
Even with the growing player revolt, Diacre’s fate was far from certain. As recently as Wednesday, she vowed to stay as head coach and accused her critics of launching a “smear campaign that is astonishing in its violence and dishonesty.”
Despite her defiance, Diacre was more vulnerable than she had ever been in her tenure after key ally Noël Le Graët resigned as president of the FFF at the end of February. Le Graët had long faced his own swirl of scandals including looming allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct and was replaced by interim president Philippe Diallo.
Diallo quickly commissioned a report on the situation involving the women’s team. The four members of the commission, including Laura Georges, Aline Riera, Jean-Michel Aulas, and Marc Keller, ultimately determined that the division between coach and players had “reached a point of no return” and that Diacre’s tenure should end.
While Diacre’s firing may satisfy top players such as Renard, Diani, and Katoto enough to return, it raises big questions about if France can pull its squad together with only four months left before the World Cup. Les Bleues certainly have the talent to be highly competitive, but it takes time for any new coach to establish their vision, and fractures such as these don’t heal overnight. Players have also raised concerns about the support they’ve received from the federation in general, so while a coaching change was clearly necessary, it also doesn’t cover all their complaints.
Diallo has asked the FFF’s executive committee to immediately begin interviewing candidates to replace Diacre. Rumors are that Paris St-Germaine head coach Gerard Precheur might be in the running along with Herve Renard, the manager of Saudi Arabia’s men’s national team.
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