The French women's national team played their first international as early as 1971 but it is only in the last decade or so that women's football has attracted widespread interest in the country.
Having qualified for the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup in the days of Marinette Pichon, it was another achievement that year, winning the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, that has proved the catalyst to current success. The coach who masterminded that triumph, Bruno Bini, is now in charge of the senior squad, and with many of those former U19 players they are now a world-class force, proved by their breakthroughs in the 2011 FIFA World Cup and 2012 Olympics where they were the only European side to make the last four at the Games. Many of the team have also been the core of the Olympique Lyonnais side that won the 2011 and 2012 UEFA Women's Champions League finals.
Qualifying round: Group 4 winners, P8 W8 D0 L0 F32 A2 Pts24
Camille Abily (midfielder, Olympique Lyonnais), Louisa Necib (forward, Olympique Lyonnais), Eugénie Le Sommer (forward, Olympique Lyonnais)
Coach: Bruno Bini
Date of birth: 1 October 1954
Playing career: Laragne Sports, AS Aix-en-Provence, AS Nancy-Lorraine, Tours FC, US Orléans, FC Meung-sur-Loire, FC Orléans
Coaching career: France Under-16 women, France U20 women, France U18 women, Méditerranée Amateur, France U19 women, France women
Bruno Bini took over from Elisabeth Loisel at the helm of the France senior team on 16 February 2007, having previously won a European title at youth level. His predecessor had been in charge for ten years and had plenty of achievements to her name, but Bini has taken the France team up a level, reaching the UEFA Women's EURO 2009 quarter-finals and finishing fourth at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup and 2012 Olympics.
Bini was an excellent amateur football player. Twice a South-East Junior champion in the early 1970s with Laragne Sports and AS Aix-en-Provence, he had an apprenticeship at AS Nancy-Lorraine in 1973/74 but never turned professional, subsequently playing for Tours FC, US Orléans, FC Meung-sur-Loire and FC Orléans.
Working as a regional coach, as well as at the Ministry of Justice, Bini was appointed to lead the France women's Under-16 and U20 teams in 1993. Four years later, he took over the U18 side, finishing second at the 1998 UEFA European Women's U18 Championship. He repeated that in the first U19 event in 2002 and the following year France took the title in Germany.
Stepping down in 2004, three years later he returned to succeed Loisel with the senior side, with a team familiar to him from his youth squads. Married with one daughter, Bini has said: "Coaching women, I think, suited me more than anything else." A man of letters, he is able to conjure a Paulo Coelho quotation or deploy Jean de la Fontaine fables in his team talks.
Qualifying top scorer
Eugénie Le Sommer: 7
2005: group stage
2001: group stage
1997: group stage
1995: did not qualify
1993: did not qualify
1991: did not qualify
1987: did not qualify
1984: did not qualify
2003, 2010 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship
2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup
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