By Tony Attwood
You may recall seeing my little piece about Noël Le Graët the Leader of the anti-Super League movement in France. And if you did read my piece you may well have formed the opinion that this gentleman is actually not a very nice character – although of course, I am only reporting what some in the French media are saying. I’ve not met him personally!
So of course I can’t verify if that is true or not – and I am only repeating the story because it is turning up across Europe, but is apparently of no interest to the English footballing media. This I imagine is because of their constant and continuous support of Fifa, especially at this time when it is being challenged by Super League.
But the accusations against the leader of the anti-Super League group are rather nasty.
And this in turn is why it is interesting to read that several members of the executive committee of the French Football Federation (FFF) have now announced that this gentleman with a rather tarnished reputation (if I may put it that way) is about to take on responsibilities in the Paris office of Fifa!!!
In fact, some reports suggest this is a job he already has. For it seems that as the crisis at home blew up the French leader of the anti-Super League group was appointed back in January last year as the special representative in Paris of Gianni Infantino, the president of Fifa. And the word is that Infantino most certainly doesn’t want to remove Noël Le Graët from office just because of a few “local difficulties.”
A statement on the subject (obviously originally in French) made by Eric Borghini, president of the Mediterranean League and member of the French FA, after the meeting that led to the resignation of Le Graët.said, “The president (Le Graët) was appointed to Fifa by Gianni Infantino… because of his skills, expertise and experience.” And indeed given that Fifa is involved, we can well believe that.
“He will continue his career, he has a job that begins at Fifa,” added the president of the Ligue de FootballProfessionnel (LFP), Vincent Labrune. “He will have responsibilities at Fifa, he is very close to Gianni Infantino; they have an office next to the Hotel de la Marine, I think it’s very good for him.”
“Gianni Infantino has seized an opportunity to use Noël’s skills,” said Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas suggesting that Fifa has been decentralizing skills for a while, (probably because of a little local difficulty in a court case involving Infantino and Switzerland. He needs every bolt-hole he can get).
Fifa’s Paris branch, located at the Hôtel de la Marine is responsible for relations with the federations, technical cooperation for the development of football and also is the location of a clearing house responsible, in particular, for what Fifa calls “solidarity mechanisms” (or what I might call “singing from the same hymn sheet”).
Le Graët has been one of the few constant supporters of Infantino within Uefa in recent years, especially since difficulties emerged in the relationship between Infantino and Alexander Ceferin, who runs Uefa with his family and friends. Part of the problem is of course Fifa’s “World Cup every two years” project which Uefa opposed. But last January, L’Équipe revealed that Le Graët was a candidate to continue as a member of the Fifa Council for four more years.
So the “old brooms” if I may call them that, continue with the sweeping away of disagreers and replacing them all with their own people.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that the individual countries that clearly are unhappy with what Infantino is up to, can’t get their act together in order to see him off, once and for all.
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