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FIFA Women's World Cup

France captain Wendie Renard takes a step back from national team and won’t play at World Cup

France and Olympique Lyonnais captain, Wendie Renard has announced she will not be participating in this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia/New Zealand having decided to step back from Les Bleues “to preserve her mental health”.

142 CAPS

The 32-year-old defender is a mainstay for the France national team and a few days ago celebrated her 141st cap with a goal in France’s 5-1 victory over Uruguay in the Tournoi de France.

This milestone saw her climb into the top ten of the most capped players in the history of the women’s national team. She would add another cap in the goalless draw against Norway as France were crowned champions of the friendly tournament for the third time in a row.

STATEMENT

In a statement on Friday, Renard explained she “can no longer support the current system, which is far from the requirements of the highest level”.

“I have defended the blue white and red shirt 142 times with passion, respect, commitment and professionalism,” Renard said.

“I love France more than anything else, I am not perfect, far from it, but I can no longer support the current system, which is far from the requirements of the highest level. It is a sad day but necessary to preserve my mental health.

HEAVY HEART

“It is with a heavy heart that I come to inform you of my decision to step back from the French team. I will unfortunately not be playing in this World Cup in such conditions.

“My face may hide the pain but my heart is suffering… and I don’t want to suffer anymore.

“Thank you for your support and for respecting my decision.”

TENSION

Reports about the tension between coach Corinne Diacre and France’s most decorated players are not new. Back in 2017, after a quarter-final loss to England at the women’s Euros, Diacre, then-newly appointed coach, stripped Renard of the captaincy.

In her book, “Mon Etoile” Renard revealed that Diacre said she was at “40 per cent of her capacity with the French team” and “perhaps the armband took up too much of her energy”. Diacre gave the armband back to Renard in September 2021.

Diacre also had a strained relationship Sarah Bouhaddi, Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer, with Bouhaddi announcing in 2020 that she is taking a break from the national team after 16 years and 149 caps.

Renard has represented France in two World Cups, two Olympics, and three European Championships. She won 14 French league titles and eight Champions Leagues with her club side, Lyon.

DIANI AND KATOTO TOO

France forwards Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto joined Renard to boycott the national team until major changes are implemented.

Moments after Renard’s statement, the Paris Saint-Germain duo also announced they would be unavailable for selection for the World Cup.

“The words of our captain Wendie lead me in turn to talk about the situation in the France team,” Katoto wrote.

NO LONGER ALIGNED

She said she felt “no longer aligned with the management of the France team and the values transmitted”.

“I therefore make the decision to put my international career on hold until the necessary changes are applied,” Katoto added.

Diani stated: “Following the announcement from our captain Wendie Renard and in view of recent results and management in the France team, I am suspending my international obligations in order to concentrate on my club career.

“If the profound necessary changes finally arrive, I will return to the team.”

A brief statement from the French Football Federation on Friday read: “The FFF has taken note of the statements of Wendie Renard, Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto,” adding that its executive committee, meeting on February 28, will take up the issue at that time.

“The FFF would like to serve a reminder that no individual is bigger than the team.”

France will face Jamaica, Brazil and Panama in Group F at the World Cup, which will take place from July 20 to August 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

Credit: AIPS Media 

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