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Degraded climate, isolated president, resurgent opposition... How can we explain the unease at the FFT?

Already a year ago, Mediapart, then RMC Sport, had already revealed a deleterious working atmosphere within the Federation under the Moretton presidency.

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Degraded climate, isolated president, resurgent opposition... How can we explain the unease at the FFT?

Already a year ago, Mediapart, then RMC Sport, had already revealed a deleterious working atmosphere within the Federation under the Moretton presidency. Common point of the two investigations: the worrying number of departures within the FFT. RMC Sport thus counts 130 departures (112 for Mediapart) out of more than 400 employees since Moretton's arrival as president. The methods would have been brutal, according to the investigations. These numerous dismissals would have been accompanied by colossal checks to avoid legal attacks for unfair dismissal. Executives of the FFT report describing in particular “a president who refuses any debate after his interventions” at the Superior Council of Tennis, a body in principle of control and vigilance over federal policy.

A year later, the climate has not calmed down. On the contrary. “The situation is not improving and the alert must be made before a tragedy occurs.” Two anonymous letters were recently sent to FFT staff representatives, the last of which revealed on Saturday by L'Equipe, and of which Le Figaro was also able to read, once again mentions "employees in distress". “Some are under chemical treatment to try to find the strength to move forward, others are just trying to quickly leave this house but the negotiations are fruitless while these employees are unable to return to the premises. When will we react?, it is also specified in this second letter. These “employees in distress” even announce “150 departures out of 400 employees in three years, unheard of”, before speaking of “injustices”, “lack of recognition” and “people crying in the corridors”.

The general director of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), Caroline Flaissier, from the business world, was “laid off” recently after the revelation of this letter from employees denouncing their working conditions. They decided to address Prime Minister Gabriel Attal directly. Since the entry into the government of Amélie Oudéa Castéra (ex-DG of the FFT) in the government in May 2022 and in order to avoid any risk of conflicts of interest, it is to the Prime Minister's office that is entrusted the supervision of a Tennis Federation.

Since AOC's departure, it's an understatement to say that the former 65th player in the world has delegated little. In the absence of the DTN, Nicolas Escudé, officially on sick leave since October and at least until mid-March, it was the former president of ASVEL who last November solicited the 14 candidates for the choice of the successor to Sébastien Grosjean, as Davis Cup captain. The method was surprising, especially since the DTN is normally associated with this task. Above all, the strong man of the FFT managed (almost) single-handedly the file on the move of the Rolex Paris Masters to Paris La Défense Arena in 2025. An important file where the die was cast very quickly. If the FFT is responsible for the final choice, some stakeholders in the matter have criticized the lack of dialogue and debate.

And among the management of the Accor Arena which hosted the tournament since 1986, we deplored the absence of dialogue. “Our biggest frustration is the impression that there is no project at Bercy for 2025. And that the project is to remain as is. This is not true. Our project was nevertheless very appreciated when we presented it in the spring at the FFT. The Federation obviously has the right to look at other options. But its decision cannot be justified by the fact that we do not meet the standards. There is also a formal problem in this story. We were very surprised to discover through the press that the FFT had almost confirmed its decision with exclusive discussions (with the Paris Défense Arena),” Nicolas Dupeux, the general director of the 12th arrondissement venue, told us last November. .

Business has been going strong in recent months. An investigation targeting the FFT and its president was opened by the National Financial Prosecutor's Office (PNF) in July 2023 on suspicion of embezzlement concerning the Roland-Garros ticketing. Then the president of the FFT was suspected of perjury before the commission of inquiry relating to the identification of operational failures within the sports movement. Under oath, the Lyonnais would initially have minimized the salary of his former CEO (from March 2021 to May 2022) who became Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. Then, as revealed by AFP, he assured that the investigation opened by the National Financial Prosecutor's Office for corruption and embezzlement had been closed. However, the investigation was opened on this subject in July at the request of the public prosecutor's office. Gilles Moretton is therefore currently suspected of perjury concerning financial matters. Which is nothing trivial...

The 66-year-old leader crystallizes tensions. And opponents are starting to make their voices heard. L'Equipe recalls in today's edition that the idea of ​​the president of the FFT to remunerate the presidents of the League, or even the committee (between 4000 and 4500 euros per month according to the sports daily) is very poorly received among many elected officials. And several Leagues angry at Moretton's policy are considering developing an electoral program in view of the elections which will take place next December with the idea of ​​distinguishing professional tennis and amateur tennis, feeling "betrayed" by a president, more than ever under fire from critics and inevitably weakened.

SEE ALSO – The superb goal on a long shot from Granit Xhaka with Leverkusen against Mainz on February 23 (2-1)

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