Leading French Players Withdraw From National Team Ahead Of Women’s World Cup

Just three days after playing in the French side which won the Tournoi De France, three of their leading players have withdrawn their services from the national team citing working conditions within their federation which fail to meet the necessary requirements.

The French players follow in the footsteps of fifteen members of the Spanish women’s national team who are refusing to play under the current head coach Jorge Vilda, and the Canadian squad who continue in their desire to strike in an ongoing dispute with their federation over equal treatment.

The French captain Wendie Renard, shocked the women’s game today by stating her desire to step away from the national team, one of the eight top seeds at this summer’s Women’s World Cup, in a social media post entitled “thank for your support and respect for my decision.”

“I defended the blue, white and red jersey 142 times with passion, respect, commitment and professionalism. I love France more than anything, I’m not perfect, far from it, but I can no longer endorse the current system, far from the requirements required by the highest level. It is a sad but necessary day to preserve my sanity.”

“It is with a heavy heart that I come by this message to inform you of my decision to take a step back with the French team. Unfortunately, I will not play at this World Cup in such conditions. My face can hide the pain, but my heart hurts. . . and I don’t want to hurt anymore.”

Renard received immediate support from several of her Lyon team-mates, including the former Ballon D’Or winner Ada Hegerberg who herself missed out on playing at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in a protest against the Norwegian federation. Hegerberg asked “how long will we have to go through these lengths for us to be respected? I’m with you, Wendie, and with everybody else going through the same processes. Time to act.”

Just hours later, Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Kadidiatou Diana posted a message on Instagram backing her national team captain. “Following the press release from our captain Wendie Renard and in view of recent results and management in the France team, I am announcing that I am suspending my international obligations in order to focus on my club career. First fan of the France team, if the necessary profound changes finally arrive, I will return to the service of the jersey.”

This was also followed by star striker, Marie Antoinette Katoto, currently recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained while playing for the national team at UEFA Women’s Euro 2022. Katoto said “the words of our captain Wendie help me in my turn to talk about the situation in the French team.”

“The events of 2019, the injury of 2022 and the recent events show me that I am no longer in line with the management in the French team and the values ​​transmitted. I therefore take the decision to put my international career on hold until the necessary changes are applied.”

French team head coach Corrine Diacre has endured repeated criticism since her appointment in 2017. During the 2019 Women’s World Cup which they hosted, Diacre failed to include Katoto in spite of her being the leading goalscorer in the previous French league season, the events of 2019 which Katoto refers to.

Since 2020, Diacre has not selected, Amandine Henry, one of the world’s leading midfield players despite making her national team captain, over Renard in 2017. In a subsequent interview with Canal+, Henry admitted “I saw girls crying in their room, I personally happened to cry in my room, because I wanted to experience this World Cup, but it was total chaos.”

Last September, Griedge Mbock suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury from which she is yet to recover while playing in a meaningless World Cup qualifier. Her club, Lyon, subsequently revealed they had asked the federation not to play her in a game France did not need to win.

Depsite being ranked fifth in the world and boasting many leading players from eight-time European champions Olympique Lyonnais, the French team has never reached the final of a major international tournament. Last summer, Diacre led France beyond the last eight of the UEFA Women’s Euro for the first time, defeating reigning European champions, Netherlands, in an epic quarter-final tie before succumbing to Germany in the last four.

In response to today’s events, the French Football Federation released a statement this evening saying “the FFF has taken note of the statements of Wendie Renard, Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto. Its Executive Committee, which met on February 28, will take up the issue on this occasion. The FFF would like to remind you that no individuality is above the French team institution.”

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/asifburhan/2023/02/24/leading-french-players-withdraw-from-national-team-ahead-of-womens-world-cup/