France’s First Female Olympic President Resigns

Head of the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) Brigitte Henriques speaks during a press conference following a board of directors meeting at the headquarters of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee in Paris on October 12, 2022. (AFP)
Head of the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) Brigitte Henriques speaks during a press conference following a board of directors meeting at the headquarters of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee in Paris on October 12, 2022. (AFP)
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France’s First Female Olympic President Resigns

Head of the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) Brigitte Henriques speaks during a press conference following a board of directors meeting at the headquarters of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee in Paris on October 12, 2022. (AFP)
Head of the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) Brigitte Henriques speaks during a press conference following a board of directors meeting at the headquarters of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee in Paris on October 12, 2022. (AFP)

The president of France's Olympic Committee resigned unexpectedly on Thursday, the latest leadership shake up of French sports amid preparations for the Summer Olympics in Paris next year.

Brigitte Henriques, a former soccer player on the French national team, was the first woman to lead Olympic sports in France. Her abrupt departure follows a period of intense infighting in French Olympic circles and prompted calls from Paris 2024 organizers for sports leaders to set differences aside and focus on delivering the Games.

“The Games come around once every hundred years in our country: The sports movement must show up,” organizing committee president Tony Estanguet said in a statement.

France's sports minister, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, said: “There is no winner today.”

She urged French Olympic leaders to unite and focus on the Games, calling them “our main objective.”

The French Olympic Committee said Henriques announced at the start of a general assembly meeting on Thursday that she was stepping down. The committee statement did not give her reasons but said she explained them to the meeting's attendees. She'd occupied the role since June 2021.

With the Paris Games less than 430 days away, the sudden void at the top of French Olympic sports will be temporarily filled by the Olympic committee secretary general Astrid Guyart. She will oversee the election process for a new president within three months, the committee said.

As head of France's Olympic Committee, Henriques was directly involved in the massive, complex and costly preparations for the 2024 Games, sitting as a member of the board of directors of the Paris organizing committee led by its president, Estanguet. As French Olympic Committee secretary, the new interim president, Guyart, was already a member of the Paris 2024 board, too.

While French sports have triumphed on the fields of play, led notably by victory in the 2018 football World Cup, they've been rocked by multiple leadership changes in the run-up to the Paris Games.

Noël Le Graët resigned as president of the French Football Federation in February after a government audit found he no longer had the legitimacy to lead because of his behavior toward women and his management style.

Bernard Laporte resigned as president of the French Rugby Federation in January after he was convicted of corruption and illegally acquiring assets and handed a suspended prison sentence.

Last October, Claude Atcher was fired as chief executive of the Rugby World Cup that opens in France in September, and which also will serve as a test of France's security preparations for the Olympics. Atcher's removal followed an investigation by French labor inspectors into his workplace conduct.



UEFA Promises More Clarity for Fans and Players on Refereeing Decisions at Euro 2024

 France's Antoine Griezmann, right, and France's William Saliba head the balls during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP)
France's Antoine Griezmann, right, and France's William Saliba head the balls during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP)
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UEFA Promises More Clarity for Fans and Players on Refereeing Decisions at Euro 2024

 France's Antoine Griezmann, right, and France's William Saliba head the balls during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP)
France's Antoine Griezmann, right, and France's William Saliba head the balls during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP)

Clarity for players and spectators and zero tolerance for serious foul play and dissent — that’s what referees have been tasked with at the European Championship.

UEFA had already announced last month that it would do more to explain decisions to teams, requiring in turn that only captains can approach the referees to discuss them.

And that was emphasized on Wednesday at a media briefing on refereeing guidelines for Euro 2024 that took place at Munich’s Allianz Stadium, two days before host nation Germany kicks off the tournament in the same venue against Scotland.

"Only the captain will approach the referee, the other players they have to think about (playing). That’s it, finish," UEFA managing director for refereeing Roberto Rosetti said.

UEFA has promised that the referees will attempt to give the captains an explanation of key incidents during the match, including what was discussed with VAR.

Any teammate ignoring his captain’s role and approaching the referee showing any sign of disrespect or dissent will receive a yellow card.

Fans, meanwhile, will also get a better understanding of VAR decisions as they will be broadcast on the giant screens in stadiums.

"This is something new. I think it’s very, very, very interesting," Rosetti said. "So we want to give, after the opinion of VAR, a technical explanation for the public. In live, simultaneously, the UEFA expert will prepare the explanation, a technical explanation about what happened in the specific situation.

"For example, on-field review, the referee awards a penalty for handball...technical explanation: Germany number nine touch the ball with his left arm which was in an unnatural position above the shoulder and making his body bigger."

Rosetti has met with all the teams participating at Euro 2024 and their coaches to present the refereeing guidelines for the tournament, including hammering home that any dangerous tackles will be severely punished.

"One of the most important priority in refereeing guidelines is to protect the players," Rosetti said. "To protect the image of the game, but in particular to protect the safety of the main actors of the games.

"We showed them a couple of clips that we are asking to the referees to be very strong in these kind of situations," he added. "So for such situations we asked to the referees to be zero tolerant because this is something that we cannot accept."