Herve Renard has been appointed as the new head coach of the France women’s national team, replacing Corinne Diacre following her recent dismissal.
Renard will lead Les Bleues into the 2023 World Cup, where they will be among the favourites to lift the trophy, and has signed a contract that runs until after the 2024 Olympics.
The 54-year-old has found fame as a globetrotting international coach over the last 15 years, most recently leading Saudi Arabia at the 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar.
His team sprung a shock group stage victory over eventual champions Argentina in their opening game, although still exited at the first hurdle after losing both subsequent matches.
Renard has worked extensively in men’s football in Africa, with his previous appointments including Morocco, Ivory Coast, Zambia and Angola. As such, he has been a three-time CAF coach of the year and both Ivory Coast and Zambia won the Africa Cup of Nations on his watch.
Spells at men’s club level in France have been relatively shortlived. His Sochaux team suffered relegation in 2014, while he lasted only 13 league games at Lille before being sacked.
Renard has never worked in women’s football before now.
His France tenure starts immediately with friendlies in April against Colombia and Canada. The World Cup for Les Bleues begins on 23 July in Sydney against Jamaica, with follow-up group games against Brazil and first-time qualifiers Panama.
Corinne Diacre was dismissed after six years as France head coach earlier in March. It followed three of the country’s biggest stars – Wendie Renard, Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto – ruling themselves out of international selection until changes were made.
Lyon superstar Renard had said she “…can no longer endorse the current system, far from the requirements required by the highest level. It is a sad but necessary day to preserve my mental health. It is with a heavy heart that I write this message to inform you of my decision to take a step back from the French team. Unfortunately, I will not play in this World Cup in such conditions.”
It was reported at the time that she intended not to play for France as long as Diacre was in charge.
Diacre, herself a former France international with more than 120 caps, clung on, labelling the criticism a ‘destabilisation operation’ motivated by the ‘settling of scores’.
But the French Football Federation decided to terminate her contract.
Diacre’s list of past controversies is lengthy. Having fallen out with Renard in 2017 and handing the captaincy to Amandine Henry, a spat with Henry in 2021 led to the armband going back to Renard. Diacre also apologised to Eugenie Le Sommer in 2019 after being publicly critical of the player, while Gaetene Thiney spoke out against her coaching methods in 2020.
Veteran goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi retired from international football indefinitely in July of 2020, citing a ‘very, very negative environment’ and refusing a call-up two months later.
France were seen to underperform at the World Cup on home soil in 2019, with Henry stating in late 2021: “I saw girls crying in their room, I personally happened to cry in my room, because I wanted to experience this World Cup, but it was total chaos.” She also accused Diacre of dropping her as punishment for approaching then French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet over issues.