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France WNT coach fired due to ‘fracture’ within team

France coach Corinne Diacre had vowed to stay even after three top players stepped away from the team. (Catherine Ivill/UEFA via Getty Images)

Just a day after France women’s national team coach Corinne Diacre vowed to remain at the helm despite the departures of key players, the national federation dismissed her from her post.

The French Football Federation pointed to the “fracture” in her relationship with the players in its announcement of the decision Thursday. The “very significant divide” within the team “has reached a point of no return,” the FFF said.

Three top French players had refused to play for their country in this summer’s World Cup under the “current system,” they announced on Feb. 24.

France captain Wendie Renard and star forwards Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani all cited issues with Les Bleues management in their decisions to step away from the national team. Both Katoto and Diani called for “necessary changes” as a prerequisite for their return.

Yet Diacre pushed back against the criticism of her leadership.

“I have been the subject of a smear campaign that is astonishing in its violence and dishonesty,” she said in a statement Wednesday.

The FFF executive committee cited “irreversible” dysfunction in its decision to part ways with the 48-year-old coach. A four-person panel commissioned by interim FFF president Philippe Diallo had reviewed Diacre’s tenure in the wake of the players’ departures.

Diacre had coached the France senior national team since 2017. She was involved in a number of controversies during her tenure. She stripped Renard of her captaincy in 2017 before reinstating her as captain in 2021, and she left Katoto off the 2019 World Cup squad.

The four-person panel has been charged with finding a replacement coach “as soon as possible” as the team, No. 5 in FIFA’s world rankings, continues its preparations for the World Cup.