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Reign FC fans hostile toward Farid's appointment

NWSL: Reign FC fans hostile toward coach Farid's appointment

January 20, 2020 By Juan Aguerrevere
Reign FC fans celebrated the news involving the club’s ownership on December 9, 2019, when OL Group, the parent company of Europe’s best club, Olympic Lyonnais, acquired a majority stake of the club signaling prosperity for years to come.

But the first major decision made by the new chairman, Jean-Michael Aulas, and boards of directors of the club in hiring Farid Benstiti as new head coach on January 17 left a sense of disconnect between Bold supporters and the club.

The spark to the uproar

The reason for the disagreement comes from a clash between USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan and the Frenchman while she played in PSG before the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. The American claimed that the club requested that players get thinner and that it was not precisely meant for performance reasons, but for the players to have a better appearance. Despite beating teammates in fitness tests, the coaching staff led by Benstiti told the 25-year-old that she wouldn't start until she lost weight. Horan was vocal and Adidas even used her story to advertise their Adidas Ultra Boost 19.

Supporters and others who have heard of Benstiti's antics headed straight to Twitter to tell the club and public how they felt about the hiring decision.

Fans were asking Reign FC to not consider Benstiti even before the hire. 

Even football writer and analyst Grant Wahl stated how problematic this decision was. 

Why would Reign appoint Benstiti?

Benstiti who is from Lyon, France, played for the Olympique Lyonnais for five years and returned as head coach of the women's team in 2001. His relationship with Lyon and Aulas had a major impact during the hiring process. 

There were 38 candidates in the pool, 20 who were interviewed. Of those interviewed, eight were female and 12 male and seven nationalities were represented amongst the candidates according to a Reign FC press release. But if there is something you need to know about Aulas is that he always gets what he wants. It is a characteristic that has brought him and his business to where they are today.

The French coach does have a history of success. While at Lyon, he won four consecutive Division 1 Feminin championships along with three Coupe de France trophies. In 2010, he departed the French powerhouse to take on the job as Russia's women's national team head coach while simultaneously leading Russian side Rossiyanka to a Russian Women's Championship title. He came back to France to coach PSG where he finished second place to Lyon for four straight years and reached a UEFA Women's Champions League. He now arrives from Chinese club Dalian Quanjian where he won three league titles.

The man might not be universally loved, but he is full of experience and has led teams to many medals and trophies. Maybe giving him a chance wouldn't be the worst idea. But if the behavior shown at PSG carries over to the United States, Horan's USWNT teammates Allie Long and Megan Rapinoe will not stand such antics at their club.

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