Hervé Renard has resigned as manager of Saudi Arabia to take the reins of the French women’s national team.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has confirmed it terminated Renard’s contract following an offer from the French Football Federation, wishing him “every success in his future career”.
The 54-year-old will replace Corinne Diacre, who was sacked this month after French stars such as Wendie Renard, Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto refused to play at the Women’s World Cup under the “current system”.
Diacre was known for having an acrimonious relationship with a number of her players during her six-year tenure, including Wendie Renard and her Lyon teammates Amandine Henry and Eugénie Le Sommer.
It will be up to Hervé Renard to steady the ship and introduce harmony into a talented squad just a few months before the start of the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
It will be Renard’s first time managing in women’s football, and is the latest step in an extremely varied career.
Who is Hervé Renard?
Renard was born in Aix-les-Bains in southeastern France, and enjoyed a 15-year playing career in the country with AS Cannes, Stade de Vallauris and SC Draguignan.
He worked as a cleaner while playing for SC Draguignan. In an interview with the BBC, Renard explained how he cleaned flats owned by a former director at FC Rouen, waking up at 2:30am to do so, before heading to football training in the evening.
The Frenchman eventually started his own industrial cleaning company, and completed his coaching badges in his spare time.
Renard officially embarked on a coaching career in 1999, with the early days taking him from Chinese side Shanghai Cosco to English team Cambridge United.
He then had stints at Vietnamese club Song Da Nam Dinh and AS Cherbourg in France, before moving into international football with Zambia, Angola, Ivory Coast and Morocco.
Renard triumphed at the Africa Cup of Nations with both Zambia and Ivory Coast, becoming the first manager to win the tournament with two different countries.
One of Renard’s longest tenures has been with Saudi Arabia – his time with the nation started in 2019. He helped the team qualify for the 2022 World Cup, at which his side pulled off one of the greatest shocks in tournament history – a 2-1 win against eventual winners Argentina.
What are France’s chances at the Women’s World Cup?
France have never gone beyond the semi-finals at a Women’s World Cup, despite often boasting an extremely talented squad. Their best finish is fourth place in 2011.
If Wendie Renard, Diani, Katoto, Henry and Le Sommer all return to the squad for this year’s tournament, joining stars such as Grace Geyoro, Delphine Cascarino and Sandy Baltimore, then France will be considered among the favourites to lift the trophy.
Renard does not have much time to settle in, however, with the World Cup kicking off on July 20th. He may spend time with the squad during next week’s international break, but there is still little time to implement his philosophy and playing style.
France also have a tough group at this summer’s tournament, with matches against Jamaica, Brazil and Panama.