News – FR – Interview with Frédéric Thiriez: “In this campaign, I am making myself the voice of amateur football”


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Tuesday February 23, 2021 at 6:00 PM -Article written by La Rédaction – Comment on this article

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The election is fast approaching With less than three weeks now before the deadline set for March 13, Frédéric Thiriez is stepping up his campaign in the presidential race of the French Football Federation (FFF) Opposed to the challenger Michel Moulin and especially to the outgoing president Noël Le Graët, the former president of the Professional Football League (2002-2016) is a fervent defender of amateur football For Foot-National, the 68-year-old leader evokes his emergency plan of 40 million euros for amateur football, but also his development plan for the licensees, the “quack” of his supporters or even more of the season if elected Interview with the “democrat” Frédéric Thiriez

Frédéric, the candidatures for the presidential election of the French Football Federation (FFF) were recently validated by the FFF’s Electoral Operations Supervisory Commission About three weeks before the election, where is your campaign going?

I do a field campaign and besides, I like it So far, I have traveled 9 out of 13 regions, not counting overseas I still have four regions to visit I will do three more in the coming days And I must admit to you that first of all, I take great pleasure in being close, in listening to the base which is nevertheless the future of our amateur football. It is very enriching and in this campaign I am making myself the voice of amateur football which has always been a little forgotten by the Federation. And saying that I’m kinda nice The people of amateur football feel abandoned and I, I listen to them and I carry their voice in this campaign

One of your competitors, Michel Moulin, sees himself as the candidate for the break How do you see yourself on your side?

My campaign slogan is for the renewal of the Federation I don’t like the word “breakingYou know, in football, we prefer evolutions to revolutions Me, I am for a strong evolution of this Federation which is frozen I would even say fossilized by the same team for more than ten years and I think that this team is not able today to solve the extremely heavy problems of football, both amateurs and professionals. It’s a team that’s at the end of its rope However, in this house of the Federation, dynamism, energy and renewal are needed

In your column entitled “An ambition, a method”, you say, I quote, that “French football is going through the most serious crisis in its history.”How would Frédéric Thiriez be the man for the job to redress the bar?

First of all, I am extremely struck by the fact that the outgoing president denies the existence of this crisis It’s terrifying You must not have set foot in an amateur club for a long time to come out with such a sentence A few days before, he was questioned about the emergency plan that I propose for amateur football of 40 million euros And he replied: “Is football bad? Is that so ? But what blindness! What blindness! We are going through an unprecedented crisis Added to the health crisis was the TV rights case The amateur football crisis was also prior to the health crisis Amateur football has long been behind all the Federation’s other concerns. Me, I believe that the Federation needs a team that is first and foremost a field team and it is quite the spirit of the list that I have the honor and the pleasure of driving with people ground And then, at his head, I think, someone must first have the will to change – which is not the case with my opponent – and above all perhaps, the political weight to do so. Because what strikes me since the beginning of the crisis is that football does not exist Football suffers events While if we look at things well, football is the first party in France with two million licensees Plus families, it’s 8 million people And despite that, football today has no political weight and the role of the President of the Federation, as I see it, is to be with the government and the President of the Republic.

You are talking about a 40 million rescue plan€ for amateur football via a State Guaranteed Loan (PGE) How would this money be disbursed and distributed?

First, this emergency plan is an absolute necessity, in any case for the coming season, that is to say 2021/2022, during which the difficulties will accumulate for the amateur clubs. It will be terrible with the non-renewal of licenses, possibly even worse: requests for reimbursement of licenses, loss of sponsors, discouragement of volunteers, reduction in municipal subsidies, etc. So urgent help is needed and I’m very struck that the outgoing president isn’t even considering it I remind you that the Tennis Federation did it She made emergency aid with a loan guaranteed by the State, just like the Rugby Federation or the Professional Football League (LFP) The Federation, she says “No, no need Everything is fine I’m here Sleep, good people” No, it is going bad ! So, these 40 million, I propose a new method to distribute them, which is inspired by one of my principles which is decentralization You know, the Federation suffers from excessive centralization, an extremely heavy bureaucracy, a stifling of local initiatives

I propose a very simple thing, it is that these 40 million are first delegated to the 13 regional leagues, plus those of overseas of course, in proportion, for example, of the number of licensees of each league, with can -be corrective criteria throughout the territory And then, that the allocation of aid be made at the regional level by a committee of presidents composed of the president of the League and the presidents of districts I insist a lot on the districts because that is the level of proximity These are the districts which know the clubs, which know their difficulties It is them that must be brought to the fore, so it will be a decentralized operation So obviously, it will just be necessary to ensure that these are still priorities that are respected For example, it would not be appropriate if this money was mainly distributed to the first teams It will be necessary to prioritize in particular beginners, kids, 6-9 year olds, since this is where we had the most losses of licensees This emergency aid will be decentralized and that is very important to me

EMPs are repayable over six years with a low interest rate It is even possible, moreover, that certain EMPs are reimbursed at more than 6 years. And I’m pretty optimistic I believe that in 3-4 years, the economic situation of the country will be rectified and I do not think that the Federation has much difficulty in repaying them, especially as other federations have done so.

In addition to an emergency plan, you want to put in place a development plan to increase the number of licensees from 2 million currently to 4 million in 2030 Also target of one million female license holders against 200000 todayHow to operate to arrive at this figure?

Before the how, there is the why Why 4 million licensees? It didn’t fall like that from my head Today in France, according to the most serious studies, there are between 4 and 5 million people who regularly play football We only have two million licensees There is something wrong if I compare to our neighbors: Germany is 7 million licensees, England 8 million licensees and us 2 million And the most serious is that it decreases And here I am not even talking about the health crisis, I am talking about before I’ll give you a precise figure: we were at 2.3 million dismissed in 2008 Before the health crisis, we had fallen to just over 2 million But it is indecent for a country like France, twice world champion! Two million licensees, that doesn’t make sense So that is the why And 1 million women, because women’s football, for me, is the future of football

Now how? First operation: obviously you need equipment I propose to launch the operation “Thousand lands for France”For example, 1000 synthetic fields in urban areas, in rural areas, it can be mini-fields, it can be playgrounds, it can be gymnasiums for futsal,… It will be up to local authorities to decide. 1000 lands, the English did it, the Germans did it Why would France not do it? How much does it cost ? Basically 500 million euros over five years How to finance them? Well there, it will be up to me to act with the public authorities I think I can do it We have a plan to revive the economy by the government which is 100 billion euros I say 100 billion euros I cannot believe that of these 100 billion euros, we cannot devote 500 million euros to the future of our youth

The grounds, but you also need referees There is no football without a referee We need to get to 30000 We lost at least 3000 over the past three years because we cannot retain them A series of measures that I propose is also a specific action on women’s football, which is still very late Because here too, we acted in reverse As is often the case at the Federation, we are interested in the top of the pyramid, but not at the bottom of the pyramid But it’s downstairs that it happens If we want high performance elite women’s football, we must act at the grassroots So there, there will be a lot of things to do at the school level, at the level of little girls, at the level of equipment to have more women, young women And finally, the new football practices

You know young people like to play football, love football But like to play when they want, where they want, with their friends, etc. But that, the Federation must take into account They must admit it without considering that these are deviant practices On the contrary, all these boys and girls must return to the federal house. That’s why we have to encourage futsal, encourage 5-a-side football We must encourage these practices rather than being wary of them, to say “Ooh there, it will compete with 11-a-side football.But it is the opposite! These new practices are good for football and all these people must return to the federal house.

Let’s talk about your list Several personalities (Tsonga, Soprano, Parker, …) were on your list before they denied supporting you You mentioned a “quack”, but is it a “quack” that looks like a setback in your campaign?

On this matter of the support committees, I will be quite discreet for the moment, even if it is possible that I will express myself more directly afterwards. Since the start of my campaign, all the people who support me have been pressured I even say bullying and harassment In my life I have always been a democrat I chose to do a campaign of my own An electoral campaign is a project against another project, this is what an electoral campaign for me What I am seeing is that the outgoing team has chosen to run a dirty campaign and I mean it intentionally I think we’ll settle our accounts later, but anyway, if we tried to intimidate me, it’s not my style There, they fell badly I would even say on the contrary that my determination came out stronger and I said to myself “No, such a system, it cannot continue.”Democracy must take hold at the French Football FederationOn the other hand, you have at your side personalities like Basile Boli, Luis Fernandez, Emmanuel Petit, Jean-Pierre Papin… What does he bring you concretely?

First, most of the names you say are not supporters, but list members I am very proud to have on my list Basile Boli and Jean-Pierre Papin, who are men who have always made me dream, like you by the way. Not by the way, the Ophélie Meilleroux, great international player, Sebe Coulibaly, currently D2 player who was also Malian international Do you see this list? For me this is the land I designed it like this, just like my project I have a project that aims to finally take into account the field My list is like this project You noticed too, and I believe this is unique in history, there are three district presidents on my list. Why ? Because the district is the level of proximity There is also an extraordinary woman, club doctor All this is the land There is a District President who is a former International Assistant Referee The terrain, you see, I care a lot about it because it has to be the terrain that speaks and that is heard

Regarding the Luzenac episode in 2014, which had been deprived of a climb to Ligue 2 when you were president of the LFP: are you tired of constantly justifying yourself on this matter?

I am not at all tired of this question which is legitimate And each time I explain like I’m gonna do it again right now Luzenac, what is it? At the time, I was therefore president of the Professional League My role was to apply the rules for entering the professional championship which are quite strict. Financial, social, technical and safety rules, in particular Have a standard field to play, for example It is still the least of things when you want to access the professional world, to have at your disposal a land that meets standards. I find that Luzenac did not have one and despite all the efforts that my services had made at the time, including with many site visits to help them, the leaders of this club have never been able to prove and to establish that they had available a stadium in line with So the board of directors could only note, unanimously moreover, that Luzenac could not go up to Ligue 2 I would point out that when I was president, many small clubs as they say, even if I don’t like this expression, acceded to Ligue 2 because they respected the rules. And in the name of what should I, president of the League, have made a derogation for Luzenac? But for what reason? With me, there is no exception! With me the rule is the same for everyone It’s not the little arrangements between friends at home There is a rule, we apply it Finally, last point The leaders of Luzenac initiated a whole series of disputes until the Council of State and at the end of last year, the Council of State ruled in favor of the League that’s it Luzenac could not reach Ligue 2 Period

Today, it figures in the reflections of my project and it is reread, as you say, in the Luzenac affair The idea would be to facilitate the transition from the amateur world to the professional world I could see a third professional division which would be a kind of airlock between the national championships and the professional championships This is one of the ideas that appears in my project and that I would obviously submit to elected officials If I am elected, I think that it would perhaps make it possible to avoid precisely the disillusions of the Luzenac type I also think a lot about the fate of a National 3 because the national championships concern me a lot. You know, today, it’s a championship that has its ass between two chairs, since it is both a little bit national, but a little bit regional No I think we have to be clear Now I propose to make it a national championship and there will also be a lot to say about the women’s D1. I am considering the creation of a women’s football league within the Federation so that there is really a responsibility to train, if I may say so, the women’s football file and not multiple services to the Federation which who share responsibilities for women’s football

Regarding the National 3, this championship would therefore come under the aegis of the FFF rather than that of the leagues?

The return of the N2 and the D2 women registered by the FFF, is it good news when you see that the Coupe de France went well?

This is good news But to say that the Coupe de France went very well, I am not entirely of this opinion, because I find it irresponsible, and I say it with gravity, to tell the amateur clubs ten days before the resumption of the Cup from France, on January 30, that you will play on January 30 when the teams cannot even train Result there were many forfeits So much for the Coupe de France For the resumption of National 2, I have been asking for it for a very long time Because between us, there is no health reason that can justify National 1 playing and N2 not playing If we apply the same financial protocols, why discriminate between N1 and N2? The Federation took a long time to realize this But that’s it, it’s going again And that’s good

The question arises today of the resumption of N3, regional and departmental championships I find the current situation of clubs impossible All the clubs that participate in these championships tell me “but we don’t know! Nobody informs us We do not know if we will resume the championship We don’t know if we’re going to have a white season”And the Federation takes no decision I find it very shocking I had suggested to the Federation to take a position quickly after consulting the clubs It’s still easy today with our modern means of communication No nothing Radio silence

If the situation does not change by March 13, and you are elected: what will your decision be?

The clubs still don’t know today, it’s true Most of the districts I meet every day tell me “but we can never resume the championshipsSo, in this case, a white season, no ascent, no descent and above all, if sanitary conditions allow it, to organize events, departmental cups, regional cups, tournaments, platforms so that our fired, kids, parents can come back to the club Otherwise, we are going to disaster in terms of members But on March 13, if I am elected that and the Federation has not made any decision by then because it is a machine today which is apparently totally blocked, which is paralyzed, well I would propose to the elected officials because that I am a democrat on the executive committee After listening to the clubs, I would certainly suggest deciding a white season: no rise, no descent and that the districts and regional leagues be free to organize in their department, in their region, a whole series of animations, if possible of tournaments, matches, cup This is what I would propose, but I will propose to my elected officials I will not take an autocratic, personal, public life decision in particular

We also see you very active on social networks Is this a way of targeting a certain audience, especially young people?

Yes of course You know, the national sports press does not interest our young people much And television, less and less This is a way of addressing them because it is still them who are mainly interested in football You know that out of the two million licensees, we have 1.1 million who are under 19 years old Football is our youth And one way to dialogue with them is social networks and that’s what I care about I care a lot And I have a lot of feedback Sometimes i get tackled But that’s what I like I like dialogue And about dialogue, I would like to tell you this: I had proposed to the outgoing president to have a debate on radio or television with the three candidates for the Federation And I have just learned that Mr. Le Graët said no, “Me, I am not debating, I did not plan in my communication planBut this answer is astounding! First, it reflects a contempt for voters and especially for all our licensees, our educators, our volunteers who still have the right to be informed. What will happen in the future to the French Football Federation and this response translates into reality two things First, he is afraid of debate Otherwise he would say yes Secondly, he is above all afraid of the result of the upcoming elections and on this second point, he is right to be afraid

Exactly In an interview with Foot-National recently, Michel Moulin declared that “football is in such a state that it is important not that there be a war during this election, which is not one of them. ‘elsewhere for me … You have to bring ideas above all” What does it mean ? That Le Graët is the winner in advance?

So there I will tell you, not at all! I can tell you that considering all the opinions of the territories I have visited, clubs, districts, leagues, I am very optimistic about the result of March 13 You know those who make football are fed up They are fed up with this system in place for 10 years, with always the same ones that decides for everyone alone, without consulting anyone There is at the base an amateur football revolt and I think it will be translated into the vote

In my career in football, I was president of the European football leagues within UEFA for a few years, and I was struck by the fact that in all countries, all the major football countries, we revere the old ones, the big players And we use them, we use them while in France, not at all That’s why I propose to create this council of internationals I think I’ll call it that It’s easier, it will be clearer This council can play a wonderful role because every member of this council could be a football ambassador in the territories and go and preach the good word in leagues, in districts, in clubs, in schools. Especially schools That’s where it happens This is where vocations can be born So that is an important point of my project and I stick to it Because you know, these men and women who are players, coaches, international referees, they carry within them the very, very beautiful history of football. And that deserves to be done first, deserves a tribute and deserves to use them, to use them They only ask that for football, not for themselves

Finally, you want the financial autonomy of the Amateur Football League (LFA) How would that serve amateur football?

Everyone today considers that the LFA is useless Some, even local, departmental or regional elected officials that I have been able to meet, say to themselves, but we could almost eliminate the LFA and that amateur football be managed directly by the executive committee of the Federation with a general directorate of amateur football. Finally, I did not opt ​​for this proposal Me, I think that the Federation must rest firmly on its two legs: the professional leg with the LFP and there is the amateur leg with the LFA And what I am proposing is that the LFA be somewhat equal to the LFP and that it really have authority and financial autonomy with a fairly simple system in the Federation. It is of course up to the LFA to fulfill its missions and report to the executive committee every year. It will be a real autonomous and responsible LFA

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French Football Federation, Frédéric Thiriez, Noël Le Graët, National Championship, France Ligue 1, Ligue 2

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