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Noël Le Graët, France’s top football administrator for more than a decade, is under investigation for sexual and moral harassment, it was revealed on Tuesday.

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The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed that an inquiry was launched following a report by the General Inspectorate of Education, Sport and Research.

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A special police unit tasked with tracking down crimes against individuals will carry out the investigation.

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The case emerged less than a week after a select committee of the French Football Federation’s top executives agreed that Le Graët should retire from his post as president until the end of a separate investigation – launched by the French sports ministry – into management practices at the FFF.

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Le Graët, 81, was forced into the humiliating move in the wake of a radio interview on RMC on 8 January in which he disparaged the former France international Zinedine Zidane and used a condescending tone in response to questions about the possibility of the former Real Madrid manager taking over from Didier Deschamps as coach of the French national team.

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Apology

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Though Le Graët apologised within 24 hours for his comments, the faux pas opened the door to a wave of simmering discontent.

The French sports newspaper L’Equipe published an interview with sports agent Sonia Souid who alleged Le Graët had abused his position in their initial dealings between 2013 and 2017.

Condemnation of Le Graët from across the political spectrum as well as from within French football has left him sidelined with 18 months still to run of his fourth term as president.

Philippe Diallo, an FFF vice-president, was appointed interim boss after Le Graet stepped down.

The 59-year-old has called on FFF staff to remain calm while the sports ministry completes its inquiry.

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