After the chaos, she had to, as in her old life, step up to the net. The Minister of Sports and the Olympic Games, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, finds herself propelled to the front line since the fiasco of organizing the grand final of European football on Saturday evening in Saint-Denis. “With the Minister of the Interior, we deplore the incidents which marred the evening of the Champions League on Saturday evening at the Stade de France and regret that some supporters with tickets were unable to attend the match”, a-t- she soberly explained in a statement released on Sunday.
The former tennis player tried to provide more answers on RTL this Monday morning, before bringing together the organizers of the match, the police and the local authorities at her ministry to “draw lessons” from the disaster on Saturday. A press conference in stride, like a baptism of fire, for the one who entered the media-political scene only a few days ago. The minister was also very useful in responding in English to the British journalists present, under the watchful eye of her colleague from the Interior, Gérald Darmanin.
“She’s the girl who does everything well, who thinks well, but never goes out of the way”
Before her first Council of Ministers last Monday, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra revealed on Twitter her daily sports session to keep up. A bit of cycling and some abs. “Starting your day with thirty minutes of exercise: good for the body and the mind! », she said. A nod to her former life as a high-level sportswoman. On the courts, the young player born in Paris won three French championship titles between 1990 and 1996, a world championship in 1992, and reached the semi-finals of three junior Grand Slams, including one at Roland-Garros.
Before leaving everything in June 1996, at only 18 years old. She would later say that she did not want to “sacrifice” her professional life, probably also aware of never being able to reach the heights of world tennis (her best ranking was French No. 18 and WTA No. 251). After a last defeat, in doubles with the champion Amélie Mauresmo, the other Amélie decides to tick all the boxes of the macronie honorum course: Sciences po, Essec and Ena in the famous Senghor promo (2002-04), where she rubs shoulders with a certain Emmanuel Macron. Some describe a “solar and enthusiastic” student, while others are more critical. “She’s the prototype of the good student, super hard worker, the type to have ‘be better’ post-its stuck on her desk. She’s the girl who does everything well, who thinks well, but never goes out of her way. An ambitious woman who is not political, who is odorless and tasteless ”, stings one of his former comrades.
“At the French tennis federation, they will all tell you that she is exceptional”
After several years at the Court of Auditors, she worked in the private sector, notably with the insurer Axa, then Carrefour as e-commerce director. She then returned to sport, gravitating in circles of reflection, never keeping herself very far from the political world. She created the Rénovons le sport français association in 2016, to promote ethical issues and “sport for all”, then unsuccessfully applied for the general management of the Paris 2024 Olympics organizing committee. She finally joined the Federation tennis in March 2021, after the election of Gilles Moretton as its head, and quickly became essential.
“At the FFT they will all tell you that she is exceptional, that she was a Stakhanovist, who never stops working and completely masters her files, it’s true. But everyone also knows that many decisions were made according to Emmanuel Macron’s political line, ”breathes a good connoisseur of the federation. Because the former tenniswoman has kept ties with her former classmate. In mid-June 2021, it was she who obtained from the Elysée and Matignon a derogation from the 11 p.m. curfew so that spectators could watch the interminable duel between Rafael Nadal and Novak until the end. Djokovic in half of Roland-Garros.
“She has an absolutely crazy background, but does not know how to manage the unexpected”
In 2017, the ambitious enarque had already tried to push his pawns to obtain the ministry and put in place his ideas, by making sport “an engine of social inclusion”, in vain. “I was neither a known sportswoman, nor from diversity, I didn’t tick any boxes”, she justifies without waffling at the Point. “Besides, I was a banker’s wife. Our time is so bizarre that it would no doubt have given ammunition to them who see evil everywhere”. Five years later, after having worked for months on the Sport program of the president-candidate, she obtains satisfaction. At the head of Société Générale for 14 years, his spouse Frédéric Oudéa took care to indicate that he will not be a candidate for his succession in 2023, at the end of his mandate. “She picks up quickly, she’s smart, and she knows how to surround herself,” a sports executive told AFP after his appointment. Its main mission for the coming months: to prepare and embody the Olympic Games scheduled for Paris in 2024.
“Amelie is a woman who has an absolutely crazy background, but also someone who does not know how to manage the unexpected, assures a close friend of the FFT. She is very strong when she masters everything, when she anticipates everything and she is the one who is going to give impetus. But as soon as there is an imponderable that happens, it gets complicated. So I’m not surprised at what’s been happening since Saturday.” Criticized by the opposition since the events at the Stade de France, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra maintained the government line on Monday at a press conference, accusing the Liverpool club of having “left its supporters in the wild”.
She also tried to reassure by indicating that France was indeed “capable of organizing major sporting events” before the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. For her second week at the ministry, the minister will discover the joys of be cooked by the senators on Wednesday, during a special hearing, in the company of Gérald Darmanin.