PARIS ( Associated Press) — Noel Le Graet, the president of the French soccer federation, was under investigation for “sexual harassment” and “moral harassment,” the Paris prosecutor’s office said Tuesday.
The prosecutor’s office said in a message to The Associated Press that the case was opened Monday following a report by the Inspector General of Education, Sports and Investigations. Investigations are carried out by a special police unit dedicated to crimes against the public.
The investigation began after sports agent Sonia Soud accused Le Graet of inappropriate conduct over a number of years, saying that he was only interested in her for sexual reasons. In an interview with sports daily L’Equipe, Souad said that Le Graët had repeatedly tried to contact him between 2013 and 2017.
Le Graet, 81, agreed last week to step down from his job as federation president after an emergency executive committee meeting over his behaviour.
The manager has faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment and association football was already the subject of an investigation ordered by French sports minister Amélie Oudea-Castera.
Le Graët, who has come under fire this month for his apparent lack of respect for former French football great Zinedine Zidane, will step aside until the executive committee reviews the audit findings at the end of January have agreed. Until then, he will be temporarily replaced by the federation’s vice-president, Philippe Diallo.
Oudea-Castra ordered an investigation into the federation in September, after the federation announced it would sue So Foot magazine, which reported that Le Grete had allegedly harassed several female workers, for defamation.
The French magazine published a six-page investigation, which anonymously quoted current and former activists of the organization, as well as inappropriate text messages that Le Grete allegedly sent to women.
The executive was re-elected last March for a four-year term. He is currently running for another four-year term on the FIFA Council, the decision-making committee at world soccer’s governing body.
Souad, who said he first met Le Grete in 2013, explained to L’Equipe that the manager wrote messages asking him to hang out with her or saying he missed her. Saud said she never put it bluntly, but made it clear that she should sleep with him if he wanted to further his ideas.
“He never saw me as an agent, but as a candy,” Soud said.
Saud said that she was hurt by Le Grete’s attitude and had considered ending her career as an agent. When asked if Le Graet had ever helped him professionally, Soud said that he had helped him find a phone number for trainer Corinne Diacre, and some business-class airplanes for French player Amandine Henry. Tried to help him with the ticket.