The unlikely Coaching swap: Hervé Renard’s near move to Ivory Coast and its fallout

Last Thursday, a surprising piece of news, revealed by L’Equipe, sent shockwaves through the football world: Ivory Coast, the host country of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, expressed its desire to attract Hervé Renard to take over the national team following the departure of former coach Jean-Louis Gasset.

According to reports, the current head of the French women’s national team was considered to be «loaned» by the French Football Federation (FFF) to try to revive a team that had miraculously reached the round of 16 despite two defeats in the group stage against Nigeria (0-1) and Equatorial Guinea (0-4).

After discussions, the FFF ultimately rejected this unprecedented proposal, even though it would have been an intriguing opportunity for Renard.

The two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner with Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015 stated, «The negotiations did not result favorably; it was not meant to happen. I would have loved to, but fate had other plans».

Consequently, Emerse Faé, Gasset’s former assistant, has been tasked with trying to revive the struggling Ivorian national team.

As for Renard, he will continue his mission as the head coach of the French women’s team, preparing for the Nations League semi-final against Germany on February 24, and, more importantly, keeping the Paris Olympics in sight.

However, this episode could leave lasting traces, as women’s football appears to have been treated as a mere bargaining chip by all the stakeholders in this affair, except perhaps for the FFF.

 It is challenging to envision Hervé Renard, who has been in the position since March 30, 2023, after leaving Saudi Arabia, continuing his current role beyond the expiration of his contract, which coincides precisely with the conclusion of the Olympic Games.

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