The death of Claude Simonet, president of the French Football Federation during the triumph of the Blues, in 1998

The death of Claude Simonet, president of the French Football Federation during the triumph of the Blues, in 1998

Claude Simonet, in Beauvais on September 3, 2004.

For the supporters of the France team, he will remain this good-natured and paternalistic leader who accompanied the triumph of the Blues during the 1998 World Cup in France and during Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands. Boss of the French Football Federation (FFF) from February 1994 to February 2005, Claude Simonet died on Wednesday March 15 in the Nantes region. He was 92 years old.

Born in 1930 in Mortagne-au-Perche (Orne), Mr. Simonet served as a goalkeeper at the amateur and professional levels, notably under the colors of Le Mans and Nantes. He was even selected for the French military team, before embracing a long career as a leader in the mysteries of football. An engineer in the construction industry, he became treasurer of the Loire-Atlantique district in 1970, before joining the steering committee of FC Nantes, his favorite club, two years later, as vice-president in charge of finance and close lieutenant of the president. , Louis Fonteneau.

His long stint (1972-1984) at the helm of the team coincided with a veritable sporting raid: the Canaries won the French championship four times (1973, 1977, 1980, 1983) and a Coupe de France (1979).

His reign at FC Nantes ended when the team moved to the Beaujoire stadium, built to host Euro 1984. Mr. Simonet then became president of the Atlantic League (1984-2000) and climbed one after the other steps of power, until becoming treasurer of the FFF (1992-1994).

In November 1993, the resignation of the head of the federation, Jean Fournet-Fayard, swept away by the fiasco of the Blues against Bulgaria, during the qualifications for the 1994 World Cup, and several scandals (the Furiani disaster in 1992, the corruption affair between the ‘US Valenciennes-Anzin and Olympique de Marseille in 1993), opened a period of instability at the “3F”.

Read also Luc Dayan’s column: Article reserved for our subscribers Football: “Let’s take advantage of the crisis to think about a more transparent and professional management of the federation”

After the interim provided by Jacques Georges, Mr. Simonet is the only candidate for the presidency of the body. He was elected at its head in February 1994. A great reconciler between the amateur world and professional clubs, he consolidated his base and formed a tight tandem with the coach of the Blues, Aimé Jacquet. In 1998, after the World Cup final won (3-0) against Brazil by Zinédine Zidane and others, he reached the peak of his career as a manager. The new coronation of the Habs, then trained by Roger Lemerre, during Euro 2000, reinforces his prestige at the head of the organization.

“Federal lifestyle”

This debonair-looking unifier will experience a more eventful end to his reign: excesses during the interrupted friendly match between France and Algeria in October 2001 at the Stade de France; elimination of the Blues, yet reigning world champions, in the first round of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan…

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