French soccer has rarely been out of the headlines over the past few weeks with the the sexual harassment claims against the French Football Federation as well as control while not bickering with Neymar.,
There is never a dull moment in France but particularly in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 where a staggering 79 red cards have already been shown this season which has prompted a well-documented but slightly less controversial debate over the standard of domestic refereeing.
OGC Nice's Jean-Clair Todibo was dismissed just nine seconds into a 1-0 home defeat to Angers SCO before the international break which has underlined just how severe the issue appears to have become this season.
"A refereeing decision which shocked me and condemned my team to start the game at a huge disadvantage," wrote Todibo via Twitter before deleting his message. "Refereeing decisions this early season have been very questionable and some even scandalous. I hope that the LFP will do something to remedy it."
By comparison, Ligue 1 (34) leads La Liga (20) for red cards across the top five major European leagues with Serie A on 15 and then the German Bundesliga on 12.
However, it is the Premier League which creates the starkest comparison with just four red cards after eight rounds of fixtures.
Extend that beyond the top flights in each country and Ligue 2 trumps Le Championnat's already staggering figures with an additional 11 ejections for a total of 45 red cards from nine rounds of games.
Adding further context, Ligue 1's total for the 2021-22 season was 103 red cards across all 38 match days which suggests that there has been a crackdown in officiating this campaign.
Indeed, even head coaches and club staff are getting regularly carded on the touchline as RC Strasbourg Alsace's Julien Stephan discovered earlier this month.
It reached the point where Stade de Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot exploded with rage after a 1-1 draw with Olympique Lyonnais and earned a suspension from official duties around games until Christmas because of his derogatory comments towards French refereeing.
"There is a problem with French referees," said Caillot. "They make mistake after mistake. It is always the wrong decisions going the wrong way."
"The refereeing is not consistent from one referee to the next," added Caillot upon receiving his ban. "Whether it is penalties or red cards, the same causes do not create the same effect -- there is a total lack of psychology. I told them that I truly regret how our relations with referees has evolved as they are unfortunately more and more robotic.
"I received a lot of support from the public, players, and presidents for saying aloud what many have thought and felt for years. This sanction simply confirms for me that we are not really attacking the origin of the issue and that it remains a taboo subject."
The French game has struggled with refereeing and issues with match officiating for years with incidents like Tony Chapron lashing out at then FC Nantes man Diego Carlos after an accidental collision and then sending the player off not helping the deteriorating relations.
Now more than ever, though, France needs to start addressing what has become an ever more pressing issue given how it is affecting the image of Ligue 1 and the professional game in France at a time when CVC funding is providing a chance to gain ground on the rest of Europe's top five leagues.