Noël Le Graët, president and retiree of the French Football Federation, ” denies all [les] charges of moral or sexual harassment or any other criminal offences”in a press release to AFP this Tuesday, January 17, in response to the opening of an investigation.
In this text transmitted by his lawyers, the 81-year-old leader is surprised to learn “through the press” the opening of an investigation for moral and sexual harassment and castigates the “many interferences and political pressures” places, according to him, of the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra within the framework of the audit carried out by the ministry. The boss of French football, in office since 2011, “denounces these repeated announcements in the press, which occur when the Inspection mission has not even submitted its provisional report”.
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“In this administrative investigation, which is clearly incriminating, Noël Le Graët had neither the opportunity to take cognizance of the elements concerning him, nor the opportunity to put forward his observations in defence, which is seriously prejudicial to the essential rights of defense and basic respect for the contradictory”support the press release.
An audit questioned
The investigation opened last Monday, revealed this Tuesday to AFP by the Paris prosecutor’s office, was designated to the brigade for the repression of delinquency against the person (BRDP) following the report for “sexist outrage” carried out, according to “Le Monde”, after the testimony of the players’ agent Sonia Souid.
Sonia Souid’s statements were collected by the auditors of the General Inspectorate for Education, Sport and Research (IGESR) charged by the Ministry of Sports with clarifying the numerous dysfunctions in terms of management within the FFF.
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“Bravo for your courage, our audit will be worthy of it. See you soon “Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra reacted on Twitter after the agent’s first testimony to the daily “L’Equipe” and the media RMC Sport.
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For the lawyers of Noël Le Graët, “the independence of this administrative audit is limited, questioned in view of the numerous interferences and political pressures from the Minister of Sports and finally by the Minister Delegate for Equality between Women and Men”.
The resignation of the leader of the FFF, currently a mass in retirement, “would be an extremely positive signal sent to all the victims”commented Minister Isabelle Lonvis-Rome on Monday on the Public Senate channel.
“These interventions do not respect the fundamental principles of separation of powers nor that of the presumption of innocence”say his lawyers.