After seasons of tension with the squad, a trio of women superstars will no longer don the French jersey.
France captain Wendie Renard said on Friday that she would be absent at this year’s Women’s World Cup, voicing that she “can no longer support the current system” alongside her teammates Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto.
The veteran Lyon defender carries 142 caps for her country and has continuously expressed her discontentment with Les Bleues, edging her to no longer captain the squad at the biggest pitch in football.
“I have defended the blue, white, and red shirt 142 times with passion, respect, commitment, and professionalism,” Renard wrote on her Twitter account.
“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,” the 32-year-old added.
Renard cited her mental health as the core reason for pulling out of the showpiece event in Australia and New Zealand.
“It is a sad day but necessary to preserve my mental health. 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,” Renard authored.
“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.”
The longtime defender will be joined by her teammate Diani and Katoto, who also voiced differences with the team’s management and the French federation.
“Following the press release of our captain Wendie Renard and in view of the recent results and management of the french national team, I announce that I am suspending my international obligations in order to concentrate on my career at club level,” Diani said on social media.
Katoto added, “the words of our captain Wendie lead me in my turn to talk about the situation in the France team. The events of 2019, the injury of 2022 then the recent events show me that I am no longer adequate with the management of the France team and the values transmitted.”
“I therefore take the decision to put my international career on hold until the necessary changes are applied.”
In response to the uproar by the football stars, the French Football Federation (FFF) said it would discuss the issue in this week’s executive committee meeting on February 28. However, it conveyed “that no individuality is above the Équipe de France institution.”
Fans and players have applauded the courageous actions of the trio, with French athletes and international footballers like Ada Hegerberg hailing the decision on social media.
RMC Sport reports that the tension between the footballers stems from Coach Corinne Diacre, and the players will return only when she is sacked.
Diacre has been seated in a heated dispute after she was stripped of the France captaincy of Renard after its quarter-final exit at Euro 2017.
However, it was until 2021 that Renard received the armband back, but that failed to stop the strains as the French soccer players’ union (UNFP) paired up with the players.
“This cry of alarm must serve as a catalyst, and push the parties concerned to consider the concrete consequences of how far we’ve fallen behind over the years,” the UNFP said in a statement.
This year’s month-long Women’s World Cup will kick off on July 20.
France start its group’s campaign against Jamaica on July 23.