Corinne Diacre can take pride, really, in lasting this long. She was, eventually, dismissed from her post as coach of the French women’s team on Thursday. But her position had been untenable for the better part of a year, if not more.
Senior players had complained about her methods, her managerial style, her selection choices, her approach to communications — basically anything and everything you could possibly think of — before last summer’s European Championship. An ever-growing number of her squad had publicly refused to represent their country as long as she was in charge.
In the end, then, the only surprise was that the French soccer federation, the F.F.F., waited so long. “I was confronted by an unease that had already existed for several years,” said Philippe Diallo, the federation’s interim president. “It is up to me to decide it, but I did so by choosing between two bad options.”
In speaking to the players, he said, he had been told of “a difficulty between the coach and a certain number” of the squad. He decided he had no choice but to “follow their recommendation,” not least because there is a World Cup in a few months and France would, presumably, want to have most of its best players available to play in it.
But while the strength of the players’ feeling is not in doubt, what lies at the root of it is less clear. Diacre is known to be cold, brusque even. She gives the air, certainly, of being an unforgiving, vaguely old-school sort of a coach. She is not, in the words of one colleague, a “natural communicator.”
Those are all flaws, of course, but flaws are not the same as fireable offenses. (There has never been a suggestion of anything more untoward at the heart of the French players’ complaints.) It is not necessarily the coach’s job, after all, to be liked by the players. It is not necessarily in the interests of the federation that the players feel empowered to remove any coach that they do not agree with professionally.