French football body investigates internal tensions

Paris (AFP) –


The French Football Federation (FFF) has commissioned an external report into repeated complaints from staff about alleged bullying and harassment in its senior administrative management.

The FFF told AFP on Wednesday that the investigation was commissioned by federation president Noel Le Graet and launched at the end of September.

This confirmed a New York Times report earlier on Wednesday that talked of a "toxic corporate culture".

Le Graet responded to questions from the New York Times with an email that said "there is no 'civil war' in the FFF".

The New York Times said Le Graet had been concerned for a while about "dysfunction and tense working relationships within the leadership team."

The newspaper listed persistent complaints of bullying, tensions and sexist behaviour within the FFF management.

The management style of director general Florence Hardouin, a former fencer, has been a particular target of internal criticism. Le Graet told the AFP that she had his support.

The New York Times also named a financial director accused of harassment and attempted sexual assault by a female employee. It said he was warned about his behaviour after an internal inquiry.

The FFF told AFP that the police investigated but decided against charges.

The audit is being conducted by a French company, Plein Sens, that specialises in "nurturing cohesion" and preventing "psycho-social risks and social breakdowns" in organisations.

It has interviewed 20 or so FFF senior staff to discuss the "dysfunctions" and try to find a solution, the FFF told AFP, without specifying when the results would be known.