The best referee in Ligue 1 has been at the heart of turmoil for several weeks due to sometimes questionable decisions. A situation mirroring French refereeing since the start of the season.

For several months, French arbitration has been regularly singled out by clubs, players and the media. After a series of errors, misunderstandings and debates around the use of VAR, head of professional refereeing Stéphane Lannoy was fired by the French Football Federation at the beginning of March. Since then, former professional referee Anthony Gautier has taken over as interim referee, and each performance of the refereeing body is particularly scrutinized. During the last Classico at the end of March, some contested the decisions of Benoît Bastien, just like during the Coupe de France semi-final between Lyon and Valenciennes on April 2.

Illustration of the situation: a referee, designated as the best in Ligue 1 by the federal commission at the end of the 2022-2023 season, is today strongly criticized for his services, to the point of no longer being able to referee one of the clubs of Ligue 1 in particular. However, Anthony Gautier, the French refereeing director, once again confirmed him as the best referee in the championship in an interview given last March to L’Equipe. This referee is François Letexier. The 34-year-old Breton had been withdrawn from FC Nantes matches after strong tensions following his decisions during the meeting between Nantes and OGC Nice in October 2022. Following this match, ended with a double expulsion for Nantes, François Letexier had not refereed the Canaries for 17 months, until March 11 and the meeting between OM and FC Nantes at the Vélodrome stadium. And we cannot say that tensions have eased with the Nantes staff, who criticized him for at least two penalties not awarded.

While football is undergoing major changes in its arbitration since the arrival of VAR, arbitration decisions are increasingly contested, particularly in Ligue 1. While the ouster of Stéphane Lannoy dates back less than a month, Almost all Ligue 1 clubs are today demanding the dismissal of Anthony Gautier, head of the Technical Refereeing Department. For the moment, the latter remains supported by the FFF, which called through its president Philippe Diallo for an “appeasement” of relations between French arbitration authorities and Ligue 1 clubs. Several reforms are notably to be the study, including the sound system for referees, which could allow better communication on field decisions and the use of VAR. This sound system should be tested during the Coupe de France final.

In the meantime, François Letexier has also been appointed to referee during the Olympic Games in France alongside Jérôme Brisard, Cyril Mugnier and Mehdi Rahmouni. “I am proud and happy with this appointment,” rejoiced the man who has been a FIFA referee since 2017. “Participating in the Olympic Games in France is a unique opportunity, a dream come true. I appreciate how far I have come. I thank everyone who helped me in my journey as a referee,” he explained.