France's national football coach, Laurent Blanc, has decided to step down. World Cup-winning captain Didier Deschamps is being tipped as a favorite to replace him.
Blanc bowed out on Saturday, refusing a new contract offer in the wake of France's Euro 2012 campaign ending in the quarterfinals.
"Laurent Blanc contacted the FFF [French Football Federation] president on Saturday to tell him of his decision not to accept the renewal of his contract as national team coach," the FFF said in a statement.
Blanc's tenure as the national soccer coach was fairly successful. Under him, the French reached the quarterfinals of a competition for the first time since the 2006 World Cup.
Blanc lost his first two games in charge, but then the French team enjoyed a 23-match winning streak before losing to Sweden and Spain at Euro 2012.
France lost its final group match to last-place Sweden to set up a clash against Spain in the quarterfinals, losing 2-0 to the defending champions.
Blanc was reportedly unhappy a new contract was not offered to him before this year's championship got under way.
The FFF had preferred to wait and see how the team performed in the championship. The federation's president, Noel Le Graet, had reportedly preferred for Blanc to stay.
Many seemed surprised by Blanc's decision to leave.
"It's a shame that Blanc is not staying," former France manager Michel Hidalgo said on France's BFM TV. "It's hard to understand, but it is Laurent Blanc's decision."
Former France defender Bixente Lizarazu was also disappointed, referring to Blanc's departure as "a big waste" in an interview with French station RTL Radio.
The FFF said no further comments would be made before Tuesday, when its executive committee meets to discuss Blanc's replacement.
Didier Deschamps, who played 103 matches for France and is set to leave as Marseille manager after a difficult last season, has been touted as a possible successor.
"If Laurent Blanc leaves it's a shame because he had indicated his wish to continue. But Didier Deschamps is among the very good coaches," former France captain and current UEFA president Michel Platini said.
France will gear up for their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign against Finland this September.
tm/ccp (AP, dpa, Reuters)