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Tennis: turbulence at the French federation, Gilles Moretton in the viewfinder

“Omnipotent”, “autocratic”, “divisive”… The recent expression of unease among employees and volunteers within the French Tennis Federation (FFT) is accompanied by virulent behind-the-scenes criticism of the Gilles method Moretton, who arrived three years ago, and who now faces emerging opposition.

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Tennis: turbulence at the French federation, Gilles Moretton in the viewfinder

“Omnipotent”, “autocratic”, “divisive”… The recent expression of unease among employees and volunteers within the French Tennis Federation (FFT) is accompanied by virulent behind-the-scenes criticism of the Gilles method Moretton, who arrived three years ago, and who now faces emerging opposition.

“People are finally realizing it. We were sold the savior of French tennis after (Bernard) Giudicelli (Moretton's predecessor, editor's note), we are not far from having a gravedigger,” says a former FFT executive on condition of anonymity. The charge is violent. But she is not lonely. Asked by AFP, Gilles Moretton did not wish to respond.

For several weeks, the successive revelations of letters denouncing pell-mell the social chaos, the opacity which reigns within the FFT, and more generally of authoritarian and failing management, has worsened the climate within the house, so that the elections are looming at the end of the year (December 14).

A letter signed by around a hundred employees, evoking “an alarming situation” and revealed by RMC Sport on February 1, has, according to a source close to the FFT, triggered the split between Gilles Moretton and its general director, Caroline Flaissier, foot on February 22 and summoned on March 5 for an interview prior to dismissal.

For those around Gilles Moretton, this decision to part ways with his DG, who replaced the current Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra in May 2022, constitutes a “clear response to the expectations and concerns expressed”.

“It’s the ideal fuse. Because if it can be criticized in its way of doing things, as could also be its predecessor, much too brittle, the global policy, it is indeed Gilles Moretton who decides it,” assures a member of the FFT under the guise of anonymity.

In one of the letters, a collective of “Anonymous Tennis Volunteers” asks Matignon in particular to take charge of the file and open an administrative investigation, the Minister of Sports having deported herself from the FFT due to her time as DG . They also mention “150 departures out of 400 employees” since the arrival of Gilles Moretton, a figure that could explain the uneasiness. Hard to know.

Questioned by AFP, the FFT responded that it had “recruited more than 70 people in 2023”, for a total of 540 employees “compared to 448 in 2021”. But not a word about departures. In March 2023, Gilles Moretton himself reported to AFP “110 departures in two years”.

The unease had already been expressed through the media a year ago at the time of complaints filed with the PNF on ticketing matters which have since given rise to the opening of an investigation targeting Gilles Moretton in particular. At the time, regarding the criticism aimed at the wave of departures (110) since his arrival, he assured that everything had been done “by the book”.

The president of the FFT requested a meeting with Prime Minister Gabriel Attal “to discuss current events in the Federation”, according to Gilles Moretton's entourage.

Beyond the social question within the FFT, a file has also recently crystallized previously underlying tensions. The move of the tournament (Masters 1000) from Bercy to the Arena La Défense, made official on January 29 - but which had been in little doubt for months, according to several sources close to the negotiations - did not go smoothly at the within the FFT Comex.

Of the 18 members, two abstained from the vote endorsing this move and one of them had “a frank, muscular, even very muscular explanation with Gilles”, according to a source close to the Comex. “There was a somewhat tense explanation, yes,” acknowledges Gilles Moretton’s entourage. In question? The method visibly too abrupt in the eyes of some, particularly with regard to the Paris City Hall, which was associated with the project so that the Masters 1000 remains in Bercy.

“Relations with the Paris town hall, which also has Roland-Garros at home, must be a little fresher. They didn’t like how it went,” assures a source close to the negotiations.

“More generally, Gilles Moretton’s way of working is far too autocratic. He decides too many things alone, and dismisses any dissonant voice,” summarizes a source within the FFT.

The question of the presence of an opposition list during the next elections now arises.

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