A fit and healthy centenarian

As part of its centenary celebrations, the French Football Federation (FFF) unveiled some of the most prestigious symbols of its rich history at a public exhibition held at the Arab World Institute in Paris.

A fit and healthy centenarian
A fit and healthy centenarian ©FFF

A pioneering, innovative organisation that never stands still and constantly moves with the times, the FFF has always endeavoured to promote the game and share it with as many people as possible. To celebrate its centenary, it organised a public exhibition at the World Arab Institute entitled ‘FFF: 100 ans de passion et d’innovations (1919–2019)’ [FFF: 100 years of passion and innovation (1919–2019)]. The exhibition looked back at the FFF’s origins, showcasing its role as a driving force of world football, its innovations and the glorious victories of the French national teams. With free entry for all FFF licence holders (managers, players, referees, etc.), it was a tremendous success.

Having been opened on 10 April by the FFF president, Noël Le Graët, France’s foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the president of the World Arab Institute, Jack Lang, the exhibition was visited, on 10 May, by league and district association officials, as well as the entire staff of the French men’s national team. “It was a superb exhibition that enabled us to relive the greatest moments of French football history,” said Didier Deschamps, a World Cup winner as a player and a manager. “The French national team has won titles, as symbolised by the 1998 and 2018 World Cup jerseys on display, for example, but it has also had some extremely emotional times. And it was great to be reminded of them. I have always considered history to be extremely valuable. My generation learned so much from the Platini era of the early 1980s.”

Organised by Xavier Thébault, the FFF’s authority on the history of the federation, the exhibition also focused on football administration, an area in which France has always excelled. “The exhibition also demonstrated everything the FFF has done to ensure that French football functions effectively, from the grassroots to the very top level,” added Didier Deschamps. “It’s great. We must never lose sight of the fact that it’s the small local clubs, which owe so much to the dedicated volunteers, that bring our best players through.”

Two questions for …

Noël Le Graët
President of the French Football Federation

What does this centenary mean to you?

Noël Le Graët
Noël Le Graët©FFF

It is a symbolic moment. The FFF and its leaders were responsible for the global spread of the game. Robert Guérin was one of the founders of FIFA, while Jules Rimet and Henri Delaunay were largely responsible for the creation of the World Cup and the European Championship respectively.

Is the pyramid-based model of French football the key to the FFF’s success?

Yes, the amateur game is indispensable for the elite level. All professional players began at a small club. The FFF has been focusing on youth development since 2011, devoting substantial human and financial resources to it. Amateur football is the bedrock of everything, especially as it fosters passion for and enjoyment of the game. It means that football is accessible to everyone throughout France.

This article originally appeared in UEFA Direct 185