Soccer-Saudis release coach Renard to take over at France women's team

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group C - Saudi Arabia v Mexico - Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar - November 30, 2022 Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard before the match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

(Reuters) -Herve Renard has resigned as Saudi Arabia coach so he can take over the France women's team ahead of this year's Women's World Cup, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) said on Tuesday.

The 54-year-old Frenchman was appointed as coach of Saudi Arabia in July 2019 and led the country to a famous 2-1 win over eventual winners Argentina at the World Cup in Qatar last year.

SAFF said in a statement on Twitter that it had agreed to terminate Renard's contract at his request, adding that it wished him "every success in his future career".

"(Renard) has an offer from the French federation and expressed his desire to take this opportunity," SAFF President Yasser Al-Misehal told Saudi Sports Channel (SSC).

"We were informed four days before the current international window and I received a letter from the French Federation, and consulted with a number of members of the board of directors, and we decided to accept this request."

French soccer federation (FFF) sacked Corinne Diacre earlier this month after captain Wendie Renard said she would not play at the World Cup if the coach remained in charge.

Ranked fifth in the world, France will be looking to win a first World Cup at this year's showpiece, which is being co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia from July 20-Aug. 20.

Renard said after a 2-1 friendly loss to Bolivia in Jeddah on Tuesday that he felt he had taken the Green Falcons as far as he could.

"I would like to thank everybody in Saudi for their support during almost four years," he told reporters.

"I think I did the maximum with the team. I can't reach another level so I prefer to be honest with everybody. Thank you again, it was fantastic time."

Al-Misehal said SAFF would take their time in appointing a new coach and would not announce a successor to Renard until June at least as their next match is in September.

The Saudis will be looking to win a fourth Asian Cup title at the continental championship in Qatar early next year.

(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk, Osama Khairy and Shady Amir in CairoEditing by Toby Davis & Shri Navaratnam)

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