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France WNT coach pledges to stay despite ‘smear campaign’

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

France women’s national team coach Corinne Diacre has vowed to remain at the helm despite the departures of several top players.

Three top French players have 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 to the team.

Yet Diacre plans to stay on as coach through the World Cup, she said in a statement released Wednesday. She also pushed back against criticism of her leadership.

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

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

“My detractors have not hesitated to attack my personal and professional integrity without bothering with the truth,” Diacre said. “I will not let myself be affected by this destabilization operation, which does not take into account my sporting record, and whose only objective is a personal settling of scores.”

French Football Federation president Noël Le Graët resigned in February, which brought a temporary halt to the FFF’s consideration of Diacre’s fate. Her future will be discussed at a meeting of the FFF executive committee on Thursday, per reports.