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Football: French arbitration undermined by personal quarrels and under pressure from professional clubs

Since the start of 2024, not a day of Ligue 1 has ended without bringing with it its share of refereeing controversies. On the weekend of Saturday March 30 and Sunday March 31, during matches in Marseille, Nice and Lorient, several incidents of the game reignited debates on the use of video assistance in refereeing (VAR) and the lack of uniformity, from one lawn to another, of the decisions taken by the officials. ” Where is the consistency ? »was indignant Loïc Féry, the Lorient president, who deplores that a penalty in favor of his team was not whistled during the match lost against Brest (0-1), Sunday March 31.

This crisis is on the menu for a meeting of the French Football Federation (FFF), Wednesday April 3. Its president, Philippe Diallo, will meet with five club leaders – Waldemar Kita (Nantes), Olivier Létang (Lille), Jean-Pierre Rivère (Nice), Laurent Nicollin (Montpellier) and Jean-Pierre Caillot (Reims).

On March 22, seventeen of the eighteen elite teams – the Strasbourg representative was absent during the vote – demanded the resignation of Antony Gautier, the technical director of refereeing (DTA). “I’ve been president for twenty-five years and this is the only time all the leaders have said the same thing. There is a real fundamental problem with governance”insists Mr. Caillot, boss of the Reims stadium and the college of Ligue 1 clubs.

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These criticisms irritate the FFF, which is responsible, in accordance with the texts of the International Football Federation (FIFA), for organizing French arbitration in complete independence. However, the professional teams, which contribute 17 million euros to the arbitration budget, would like to have their say. “We are not interferingdefends Mr. Caillot. But, for years, we have had the feeling that we are paying and that the people to whom we allocate budgets are accountable only to themselves. »

The current crisis originates from the succession of Pascal Garibian, former DTA, in January 2023. The FFF then imagines an unprecedented team: Antony Gautier is chosen to take over and lead three deputy directors – Stéphanie Frappart is in charge of women’s affairs, Alain Sars, from the amateurs, and Stéphane Lannoy, from the professional sector. The appointment of the latter, finally dismissed on March 13, responded to a desire for compromise on the part of the federation, with several professional clubs wishing to see him take on the role of DTA. “Stéphane Lannoy understood that we wanted uniform decisions, that we let the game play without whistling at each contact and that we use VAR, that we pay dearly”argues Mr. Caillot.

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