After the resignation of its president, the National Olympic Committee will have to get out of internal conflicts

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By John

Symbols are sometimes around the corner. Thursday, May 25 around 12:30 p.m., in front of the Maison du sport français, in the 13e district of Paris, the parking space reserved for the president of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) was empty. The one assigned to the general secretary, on the other hand, was occupied. A few hours earlier, Brigitte Henriques, president of the CNOSF, had announced her resignation. It is now up to the former foil fencer Astrid Guyart, as secretary general of the Committee, to take over as interim.

The renunciation of Henriques signs the end of one of the bad soap operas that has shaken the governance of French sport for almost a year. After Bernard Laporte, who resigned from the French Rugby Federation, on January 27, and Noël Le Graët, who returned his mandate as president of the French Football Federation (FFF), on February 28, Ms. Henriques is the third leading representative tricolor instances to be pushed towards the exit in 2023, in a deleterious atmosphere.

Again on Wednesday evening, the former vice-president of the FFF, the first woman elected to the presidency of the CNOSF, on June 29, 2021, seemed determined to continue her action at the head of the Committee, despite virulent opposition, led by her predecessor, Denis Masseglia, 75 years old.

The latter publicly called for his resignation and had announced, a week ago, his intention to file a complaint against X for “abuse of social good” before the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), pointing to several expenses (expense reports, consulting services) engaged, according to him, irregularly by Mrs Henriques.

“Difficult times, very difficult”

To the members of the executive office of the CNOSF, the latter had announced, on Wednesday evening, its intention to organize a vote of confidence during the general assembly (GA) on Thursday. Such consultation was not provided for in the Committee’s statutes but was envisaged as a means of democratically emerging from the crisis of governance. But Thursday morning at 10 a.m., at the opening of the GA, the 52-year-old leader announced her resignation, without the executive office having been notified.

What happened between late Wednesday night and Thursday morning for Ms. Henriques to drop out? Has she, discouraged, surrendered on her own? Was he informed, in high places, that the degradation of the image of the French Olympic Committee was such, just over 400 days before the Games in Paris, that his departure was no longer an option? These two versions are plausible and perhaps mixed.