Noel Le Graet

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Le Graet says Benzema will never play for France again

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France Football president Noel le Graet says Karim Benzema will never play for France again, and Benzema is furious.

The head man said Saturday that Benzema will not return to the French national team, despite calls for the Real Madrid striker to make his return to the national team. Benzema has not played for France since 2015, frozen out as part of the fallout from the Mathieu Valbuena sex tape affair.

It is that incident and that alone that has kept Benzema off the field for Les Blues, said le Graet. “For me, Benzema is a very good player. I have never criticised his qualities,” le Graet told RMC Sport on Saturday. “On the contrary, he is proving again this year at Madrid that he is one of the best players in his position. But the adventure with France is over.”

Benzema responded soon after on social media, pleading for a chance to play again and firing back at le Graet’s suggestion that he is done.

“Noël, I thought that you did not interfere with the decisions of the national team coach!” Benzema wrote on Twitter. “Know that it will be me and me alone who decides when my international career is over. If you think that I am finished, let me play for a country that I am eligible to play for and we will see.”

Benzema was also eligible to play for Algeria before choosing France, but according to FIFA rules, he cannot switch to another national team having racked up 81 career appearances for Les Blues.

Pressure from fans to call in Benzema has increased with Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann both in poor form, leaving Kylan Mbappe to shoulder much of the attacking load. Benzema, meanwhile, has scored 11 goals in 15 appearances for Real Madrid across all competitions this season. French publication L’Equipe ran a poll asking whether Benzema was the best striker in France, and 73% of responses indicated “yes.”

France’s soccer match in England to go ahead despite attacks

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PARIS (AP) The French Football Federation says France’s friendly match against England in London on Tuesday will still take place, despite major concerns over safety following a terrifying night of violence that left more than 120 people dead in Paris.

The FFF says on its website Saturday that its president Noel Le Graet has confirmed that the friendly at Wembley “will go ahead.”

France beat Germany 2-0 on Friday at Stade de France in a game overshadowed by the events around the city.

There were two explosions outside the stadium itself during the first half and French President Francois Hollande, who was there watching the game, was evacuated and immediately held an emergency meeting.

FFF president whines about Payet move, blames PSG for not buying him instead

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President of the French Football Federation, Noel le Graet, has some hot takes on the Dimitri Payet transfer to West Ham, and he wants everyone to know.

Payet shocked Marseille when he pulled back on a verbal agreement to sign a new contract, and instead took a big contract at Upton Park without telling his club until the deal was about complete.

While Payet’s actions were certainly controversial, many in France have responded with an equal amount of anger and frustration. The most outspoken has been le Graet, who heaped blame on just about everyone in France for the result of this transfer. First, he took aim at the big clubs for not buying Payet instead, as if it was their fault he left France.

“It’s embarrassing,” le Graet claimed while speaking to Le Parisien. “PSG have a role to play though, as do Monaco. I would prefer that our big clubs, with strong economic situations, were interested in French internationals. I dream to see half of the team at PSG consisting of French players. It would be better for everyone and feed the market. With the values, we could have a competitive team.”

While the sentiment is nice, as most countries wish to have top domestic players playing at top domestic clubs, for the FFF president to essentially say it’s those clubs’ fault that domestic players got paid a lot of money elsewhere is a bit ridiculous. But he didn’t stop there, going after the television companies for not pumping enough money into the French game.

“If we got more money from our television companies, we could be more intelligent. But they don’t give us a lot – it is a joke because we are close to the level of the leagues in Italy and Germany. There is already an attraction to English football because of the money. Now a zero is added to the wages of our young players when they cross the channel and that’s not about to change. The French model must be stronger economically.”

That’s funny because it sort of sounds like he’s blaming everyone else for not doing his job for him.

Other top leagues are having the same struggles, and there’s no easy fix. Most notably, England is having trouble with over-valuation of its domestic players. But for le Graet to simply hurl blame around aimlessly comes across as pretty weak.

France extends manager Didier Deschamps through next World Cup

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Formerly a midfield wizard, Didier Deschamps is making his mark on the touchline as well.

Following a berth in the quarterfinals, France has stability at the managerial position as they inked their manager to a new contract that will keep him through the 2018 World Cup.

The move was a no-brainer, and it’s more surprising that this wasn’t done earlier than the fact he was extended in the first place. Deschamps navigated off-the-field turmoil and on the field injuries to guide France to a quarterfinal position in Brazil this past World Cup, and they are to host the European Championships next tournament, so stability at the managerial position is hugely important.

The French Football Federation (FFF) made the announcement on Twitter, saying, “Following a proposal from president Noel Le Graet, the executive committee of the FFF has decided to extend the contract of France head coach Didier Deschamps until the next World Cup in 2018 in Russia.”

Deschamps is looking to add to his already storybook playing career with one on the sidelines, and he began his tenure in charge of his home country when his former French teammate Laurent Blanc somewhat suddenly stepped down following a disappointing exit from the 2010 World Cup in order to take over at Paris Saint-Germain. The 46-year-old earned 103 caps as a player for the French national team, known for his composure in front of the back line and ability to see counter-attack opportunities others would have missed. He captained his country to World Cup triumph in 1998, as well as Euro success two years later.

“The partnership between coach and president is fundamental, the players sense it too,” Deschamps said in a press conference to announce the extension. “I’m very happy in my role as national team coach.”

“The financial matters didn’t take long,” added Le Graet. “It was indispensable to have this stability. He has our total backing, and the wish was mutual.”