Frédéric Thiriez, lawyer, former president of the Professional Football League (LFP) from 2002 to 2016, candidate for the presidency of the French Football Federation beaten in 2021 by Noël Le Graët, draws the conclusions from the World Cup in Qatar and of its consequences for French football.
We publish his opinion piece.
The text of the forum
“Deprived of their golden ball, weakened by injuries and a virus that came out of nowhere, the French team achieved a course in Doha that commands admiration.
From the final lost against an Argentinian team in warrior mode, we will remember his courage at the end of the match, the promising character of the young French talents and of course the genius of Mbappé.
More than a defeat in the final, what counts to appreciate the strength of French football is its course over time.
In the last seven World Cups, France has been a finalist four times.
A single balance sheet.
Brazil, Germany and Argentina do twice as well.
Spain and Italy four times less.
France is unquestionably the most successful nation over 25 years, the most “sustainable”.
It is the result of a training policy initiated in the 1970s by Georges Boulogne, followed by his successors at the National Technical Department (Michel Hidalgo, Henri Michel, Gerard Houllier, Aimé Jacquet, etc.).
Added to this is the diversity of our population which, no offense to the detractors of “black-white-beur France”, is an immense wealth.
These talents, it is enough to detect them then to assure them a formation at the same time sporting and school.
The famous double project thus summed up by Georges Boulogne when speaking of training centers: “Here, we train men before training footballers”.
French professional clubs now host thirty-five training centers for 15-19 year olds who train more than 2,000 young people and about 10% of whom come out with a professional contract.
Add to that what happens before.
Gérard Houllier was at the origin of the federal “pre-training” centers for 12-15 year olds, renamed “hope centers”.
France has 16 for boys and 8 for girls.
This policy is doubly profitable.
On the one hand, professional clubs benefit from it since they receive comfortable transfer compensation when “their” young people go abroad, attracted by much higher salaries.
On the other hand, the Federation has a pool of well-trained players, most of whom can be selected in the blue jersey.
It is therefore no coincidence that many nations have sought to draw inspiration from this French model, such as Germany (world champion in 2014) after its failure at Euro 2000 or Morocco, whose career in Doha should not have surprised.
So would everything go for the best in the best of all possible worlds?
In an ideal (or better) world, the vast majority of talents trained in France would pursue their careers there, offering the public an even better professional championship and a brilliant record in the European Cup.
However, in a universe deregulated by the
, formative France, looted, becomes the second country "exporting" players, behind Brazil.
It remains glued to an unflattering fifth place in the UEFA index, far behind England, Germany, Spain, Italy.
And our national team has never had so few players playing in France (6 out of 26 in 2022!).
What to do ?
Even if our politicians turn a deaf ear, it must be remembered that competition between European clubs is totally distorted by the exorbitant level of employers' social charges in France.
Not only is the rate much higher (more than 30%, against for example 13.7 in the United Kingdom), but above all the contributions are not capped as they are in Italy, Germany and Spain.
The result is disastrous for our clubs: Angers pays 12 times more charges each year than Real Madrid;
Saint-Étienne pays more charges than all the clubs in the Bundesliga combined, Olympique Lyonnais more than the Bundesliga and the Spanish Liga combined and PSG alone more than all the clubs in the three German and Spanish championships and Italian together...
Our clubs therefore engage each year in the race for European titles with a ball at their feet and these major distortions are directly responsible for the exodus of our best footballers.
To pay a player 600,000 euros net, a German club will pay 613,000, a French club 804,000 (Premier league study / ayacheSalama, 2019).
We can understand that our governments, although aware of this reality, hesitate to act.
Legislate for footballers, these millionaires?
While so many French people are struggling to make ends meet?….
Double error: the relief of employers' social security contributions targets the companies that are the clubs, not the players;
such legislation, by curbing the exodus of the latter abroad, will relocate taxable (and high!) income to France, so that the operation will ultimately be a winner for public finances.
It just takes a little courage and pedagogy to move forward, except to shamefully resign oneself to France playing in the second European division.