France coach ready to focus on World Cup after player revolt

PARIS (AP) — Newly-appointed France coach Hervé Renard wants to turn the page and focus on the upcoming Women’s World Cup after a group of players facilitated the dismissal of his predecessor.

Renard was hired this week to replace Corinne Diacre and lead the team at this year’s Women’s World Cup, and then at next year’s Paris Olympics.

Diacre was fired only four months before the tournament after several players in the squad turned on her.

“What happened before is none of my business,” Renard said Friday. “I’m focused on the present, and the future.”

The Women’s World Cup is scheduled to be played from July 20-Aug. 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

Diacre led the French national team to the quarterfinals at the last Women’s World Cup in 2019 and was expected to coach the team at this year’s tournament.

There had been strong tensions in the France squad for years between the players and Diacre. Things worsened for Diacre when France captain Wendie Renard said she would skip the Women’s World Cup because she was unhappy with the team’s set up.

Following Wendie Renard’s decision, striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto and forward Kadidiatou Diani also announced they were putting their international careers on hold. Diani, who picked up an injury this week during a Champions League game, said she would return to the national team only if significant changes were made.

The new coach, who paid tribute to Diacre for the “very, very good results” she achieved, included Wendie Renard in his list of 26 players for upcoming friendlies against Colombia and Canada. He said all the rebel players are available for selection.

“The most important thing now is to move forward,” said Hervé Renard, who is not related to Wendie.

The 54-year-old Renard quit as coach of Saudi Arabia’s national team earlier this week, ending a four-year spell highlighted by a win over eventual champion Argentina in the group stage of last year’s World Cup in Qatar.

He said his goal with the women’s team is to at least reach the semifinals at both the World Cup and the Paris Olympics.

“This French women’s team is among the best in the world, there is a possibility,” he said. “We won’t be the top contenders, but we will do everything possible to make it happen.”


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