'Far from the requirements of the highest level' - France stars Wendie Renard, Marie-Antoinette Katoto & Kadidiatou Diani announce they will not play at 2023 Women's World Cup
- Renard will not play at the 2023 Women's World Cup
- Cites France's 'current system' as not good enough
- Lyon defender has 142 caps for her country
WHAT HAPPENED? Renard, who has 142 caps for Les Bleues, announced the decision on social media on Friday, less than five months before the tournament is due to begin. The Lyon legend raised concerns about the standard the French set-up and she was soon followed by Katoto and Diani in pulling out of the showpiece event in Australia and New Zealand.
WHAT THEY SAID: "I have defended the blue, white and red shirt 142 times with passion, respect, commitment and professionalism," Renard wrote. "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. 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."
Merci pour votre soutien et le respect de ma décision. 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/MOryINwvb0— Wendie Renard (@WRenard) February 24, 2023
Katoto wrote in a statement of her own: "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."
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. (1/2) https://t.co/VxVO42VUmQ— Matt O'Connor-Simpson (@matthewOCS) February 24, 2023
Diani added: "Following the press release from our captain Wendie Renard and in view of the recent results and management in the France team, I announce to suspend my international obligations in order to concentrate on my club career. First fan of the France team, if the necessary deep changes finally arrive, I will return to the team."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Renard is one of France's greatest ever footballers, with eight Champions League titles to her name with Lyon. She is one of her country's most important players, too. However, during Corinne Diacre's time in charge of the national team, there have been problems, with Renard stripped of the captaincy after Euro 2017.
Diacre said that Renard's level was not high enough, in a year when the defender won the league title, the Champions League and was named to the FIFPRO World XI.
The France boss has clashed with the free-scoring Katoto too, bizarrely leaving the PSG forward out of her squad for the 2019 World Cup. Diani, meanwhile, has been capped 82 times by her country aged just 27 and will be another big miss for Les Bleues.
AND WHAT'S MORE: The French Football Federation (FFF) responded to the players' withdrawal from the team on Friday evening, writing: "The FFF has taken note of the statements of Wendie Renard, Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto. Its Executive Committee, which met on February 28, will take up the issue on this occasion. The FFF would like to point out that no individuality is above the French team institution."
IN TWO PHOTOS:
DID YOU KNOW? No one has made more appearances in the Women's Champions League than Renard (108), who became the first player to hit a century of games last year.
WHAT NEXT? It remains to be seen whether more players will drop out of the World Cup in the coming days.