Woman testifies about inappropriate behavior of French federation president: “Sonia, I’m on my third bottle, I’m waiting for you with the fourth…”

French federation chairman Noël Le Graët (81) is tipsy. A day after he had to go through the dust for disrespectful statements about Zinedine Zidane, French player agent Sonia Souid testified in the French sports newspaper L’Equipe about transgressive behavior. According to Souid, Le Graët made advances for years and was afraid of his influence. An investigation is underway into allegations of misconduct by Le Graët.

Michael Van Damme

After several anonymous testimonies in the French football magazine So Foot about alleged transgressive behavior by Le Graët, the French Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra demanded an audit. It is currently underway, but the controversial French federation chairman has already publicly denied everything and even said that he does not even know how to write a text message.

Now, Sonia Souid (37), one of the women comes out of anonymity. She says that Le Graët knows very well how to write a text message. In an extensive account in L’Equipe, Saouid talks about how Le Graët made advances for years from his position of power as federation chairman. From a job interview at his apartment where the promised third party was missing to a voicemail asking him to drink champagne at night while he was quite tipsy. While she only wanted one thing: to do her job and promote women’s football.

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“He saw me as a candy”

“When he wanted to consider my candidacy to promote women’s football at the French federation, he invited me to his Paris apartment,” says Sonia Souid in the French sports newspaper L’Equipe. “We would sit together with Brigitte Henriques, secretary general of the football association and responsible for women’s football. He said he regularly did this at his home because it is more convenient and confidential. I accepted. I was happy that we could sit together so quickly, I wanted to talk about women’s football. Then you won’t be difficult, I was 28 years old, a young real estate agent, he 72 and the president of the French football association. But he saw me as a piece of candy. To put it bluntly: he saw me as two breasts and ass.”

“When I arrived, two champagne glasses were waiting. I was suspicious, didn’t touch the champagne and waited for Brigitte Henriques. But she didn’t come, he said she was unable to attend. He added that we didn’t need her, that if we were close enough he could make my ideas come true. I was surprised, but you are sitting there opposite the federation chairman. I ran off and said I had to go to my fiancé.”

Sonia Souid. — ©  AFP

“I’m on my third bottle”

“But after that he called me regularly to invite me to dinner. He wrote that he missed me and invited me to competitions. Apart from that time when I was with him, when he made me understand that he wanted me to end up in his bed, it’s thin. But I have voice messages and a few texts: “Are you available tomorrow night?” Or: “I miss you” And then there was that one voicemail in 2017: “Sonia, I’m on my third bottle, I’m waiting for you with the fourth…” I was scared and at some point I wanted to stop with my job in football. A few years ago the world was not ready to hear this kind of testimony and I was scared, but now I feel strong. That’s why I’m coming out with this now. I am a mother and I don’t want my children to ever have to meet someone like Noël Le Graët.”

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