Celebrating women in sport on International Women’s Day: Wendie Renard

Celebrating women in sport on International Women’s Day: Wendie Renard post thumbnail image

Changing the landscape of international football one step at a time.

French national team captain and Olympique Lyonnais Féminin defender Wendie Renard is making history.

The 32-year-old recently announced she will not participate in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, taking a “step back” from international football to protect her wellbeing.  

She took to social media to reveal the toxic culture within the team, highlighting harmful working conditions that players endure to represent their country.

“I defended the blue, white, and red shirt 142 times with passion, respect, commitment, and professionalism. I love France more than anything. I am not perfect — far from it — but I can no longer support the current system,”

“Not to mention the requirements at the highest level. It is a sad, although necessary, day in order to preserve my mental wellbeing. It is with a heavy heart that I inform you with this message that I am stepping back from the French national team. Unfortunately, I will not participate in a World Cup under these conditions. My face can hide the pain, but my heart is hurting. I do not want to be in pain any longer. Thank you for your support and respecting my decision.”

Wrote Renard.

In the past, players have been silenced when speaking on or complaining about the current working conditions under head coach Corrine Diarce, who has been in charge of the team since 2017. They have also been suddenly omitted from rosters following public comments.

Veteran players have been turned into outcasts, or choose elongated “pauses” to recuperate. Long-time goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi “paused” her national team career in 2020 and has not returned.

But despite the constant player walk-outs and tournament eliminations, France Football and President Noël Le Graet, who was himself forced to step down after comments directed at Zinedine Zidane, continued to support Diarce remaining in charge.

“The current relationship between Corinne Diacre and the players is very bad. It was the case before the World Cup, during the World Cup, and I can assure you that after the Tournoi de France — which had positive results, the relationship has not improved,”

Added Olympique Lyon manager Gérard Prêcheur.

Now, Renard wants to take back the narrative by voluntarily stepping away ahead of a major tournament to finally incite change for the greater good. Her actions have started a larger movement. This is a wake up call for the French Football Federation.

National team players Kadidiatou Diani and Marie Antoinette Katoto posted to their personal social media accounts following the news of Renard’s retirement, announcing their own ‘pause’ from the team. 

“Our captain Wendie’s words have led to my turn to speak about France’s national team situation,”

“The events of 2019, the injury of 2022, and recent events have shown me that I am no longer aligned with the French management and values passed on. I am therefore deciding to suspend my international career until the necessary changes are made.” 

Wrote Katoto.

International figures have also shown their support for Renard. 

“How long will we have to go through these lengths for us to be respected? I’m with you, Wendie, and with everybody else going through the same processes. Time to act, “

Wrote Norway figure Ada Hegerberg.

Slowly, Wendie Renard is getting the French Federation and the world to listen. 


Major achievements

Lyon

  • Division 1 Feminine – 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19, 2019–20, 2021–22
  • Coupe de France – 2007–08, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2018–19, 2019–20
  • UEFA Women’s Champions League – 2010–11, 2011–12, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19, 2019–20, 2021–22
  • Trophée des Championnes: 2019 2022

France

  • Cyprus Cup: 2012, 2014
  • SheBelieves Cup: 2017

Individual

  • UEFA Women’s Championship All-Star Team: 2013
  • FIFA Women’s World Cup All Star Team: 2015
  • FIFA Women’s World Cup Dream Team: 2015
  • FIFPro: FIFA FIFPro World XI 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
  • IFFHS Women’s World Team: 2017 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
  • UEFA Champions League Defender of the Season: 2019–20
  • IFFHS World’s Woman Team of the Decade 2011–2020
  • IFFHS UEFA Woman Team of the Decade 2011–2020

Source: 90Min

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