Corinne Diacre was sacked as coach of the France women’s team just months before the Women’s World Cup after her position was weakened following a revolt by leading players.

The 48-year-old was under contract until 2024 but came under serious pressure after captain Wendie Renard announced last month that she would no longer play for the team, with colleagues Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto following suit.

The announcement by the French Football Federation (FFF) on Thursday comes just over four months ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, where a French side ranked fifth in the world will hope to feature prominently.

The French FA – itself in a quandary following the recent resignation of its scandal-hit 81-year-old president Noel Le Graet – said its own investigation had uncovered “a major rift among senior players” that had “reached a point where… which there are no problems – return that harmed the interests of the team”.

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“The FFF recognizes the implications and the seriousness with which Corinne Diacre and her collaborators went about their work, but it seems that the problems in this context are irreversible,” he added.

“In view of this, it has been decided to end Corinne Diacre’s job at the helm of the France women’s team.”

Lyon defender Renard, who has 142 caps and is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, exposed that breach when she announced last month that she would not be going to the World Cup.

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“I can no longer support the current system which falls far short of the requirements needed to compete at the highest level,” said Renard.

Paris Saint-Germain striker Diani, the French league’s top scorer and like Renard a nominee for last year’s Ballon d’Or, followed along with her PSG team-mate Katoto.

“We have reached a point of no return. The girls just can’t take it anymore,” Diani told TF1 last weekend, but Diacre’s sacking could mean these stars rejoin the fold.

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Diacre told the AFP news agency on Wednesday that she had been the victim of a “smear campaign” and was “decided to do my job and, above all, to make France proud at the next World Cup”.

She had hoped to stay in that position until after next year’s Paris Olympics.

Diacre has an admirable CV, from 121 caps as a player to a landmark three-year tenure as manager of men’s team Clermont in France’s second division.

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But she has been a divisive figure as France coach since she stripped Renard of the captaincy earlier in her tenure.

Another Lyon star, midfielder Amandine Henry, led the team at the 2019 World Cup but has been out of the picture since late 2020 and has also fallen out with the manager.

Under Diacre, France lost to the United States in the quarterfinals when they hosted the 2019 World Cup.

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Les Bleues then lost to Germany in the semifinals of last year’s European Championships in England.

No new coach has been appointed, with France next playing home games against Colombia and Olympic champions Canada in April.

The FFF said its interim president Philippe Diallo had asked a committee to speak to potential candidates “as soon as possible”.

Diallo said after a meeting at FFF headquarters in Paris on Thursday that a four-man committee set up to investigate the leadership of the women’s national team had “unanimously” recommended leaving Diacre.

Current PSG coach Gerard Precheur is one of the names linked with the vacancy.

France aren’t the only team in trouble as the World Cup approaches.

Spain, ranked seventh in the world, were thrown into chaos last September when 15 players withdrew en masse and called for major changes.

However, the Spanish Football Federation backed coach Jorge Vilda and none of the rebels have featured since.

Canadian players recently threatened to go on strike over pay, funding and contract issues, demanding the same terms as the men’s team. The dispute led to the resignation of Canada Soccer’s president.

France begin their World Cup campaign against Jamaica on July 23 in Sydney.

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