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Hope restored in France after manager Corinne Diacre is finally fired

PARIS - France women's national soccer team coach Corinne Diacre has been sacked on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, the French soccer federation (FFF) said on Thursday.

Former France captain Wendie Renard said last month she would not play at this year's World Cup and French multimedia outlet RMC Sport reported that Renard said she would not represent the national side as long as Diacre is in charge.

"Although the FFF recognizes the involvement and seriousness of Corinne Diacre and her staff in the exercise of their mission, it appears that the dysfunctions observed seem, in this context, irreversible," the FFF said in a statement.

Diacre's position has become untenable since Renard said that she would not play at this year's Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand to preserve her mental health. Fellow internationals Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani followed suit soon after Renard's announcement, all saying they were taking a step back from the national team.

Renard, who is widely considered one of the best defenders in women's football, played for France against Norway, Denmark and Uruguay last month.

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The 48-year-old Diacre, who in 2014 became the first Frenchwoman to coach a men's team when she took charge of then Ligue 2 side Clermont, was appointed France head coach in 2017.

Renard was stripped of the captaincy by Diacre following France's quarterfinal exit at Euro 2017, before regaining the armband in 2021.

Diacre had previously attracted criticism from other French players, including Gaëtane Thiney and Sarah Bouhaddi. The coach was also criticized at the European Championship in England last year for leaving out influential senior players Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer, their all-time leading scorer (86 goals), in her squad of 23. France were eliminated in the semifinals by Germany.

"I can no longer support the current system, which is far from the requirements of the highest level," said Renard.

The Women's World Cup takes place from July 20 to Aug. 20.

Diacre's sacking concludes a rough few weeks for French football, after FFF president Noël Le Graët resigned amid a legal investigation into alleged moral and sexual harassment and following a damning audit commissioned by the sports ministry.

Le Graët has denied wrongdoing. "I have never harassed anyone, morally or sexually," he told French sports daily L'Equipe. He also said he would challenge the conclusions of the government ministry audit via "all legal channels."

Stand-in president Philippe Diallo "has asked the committee to interview the candidates for the post of (women's) coach as soon as possible and to make its recommendations," the FFF statement added.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot and Aadi Nair; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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