As first rumored last weekend, Reign FC announced today the appointment of Farid Benstiti as the third head coach in team history. The Lyon native most recently coached Dalian Quanjian in the Chinese Women’s Super League, where he won two league titles, and has a storied history at Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain, where he won several league titles and coached international stars such as Hope Solo, Aly Wagner, Wendie Renard, Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath.
“We are excited to welcome Farid to the Reign FC family,” said Reign FC CEO Bill Predmore in a team release. “Our goal was to find a world-class coach that has a proven ability to deliver titles at the top levels of the game. We also sought a leader who would both appreciate and enhance the unique culture we developed over the past seven years. I selected Farid because I believe he embodies our values, shares our ambitions, and has demonstrated he is capable of leading our team to its ultimate objective of a NWSL Championship.”
Predmore noted that the months-long search to replace Vlatko Andonovski included an initial list of 38 candidates, 20 of whom were interviewed at least once. The pool of candidates came from seven countries and was 40% female, and included coaches at the college, pro and international level. In addition to Predmore, the search committee included members of the Reign FC technical staff and select senior players from the squad. One other candidate who was confirmed to have interviewed for the position is former Manchester City Women head coach and new NYCFC assistant Nick Cushing.
“We were pleased in that the process yielded several fantastic candidates,” said Predmore, “But as we approached the conclusion of the process it was clear that Farid’s experience, record of success, and approach to the game made him the clear favorite for the position.”
Benstiti’s hiring comes with some controversy due to disparaging statements he reportedly made to Lindsey Horan related to weight loss and fitness during her time at PSG. Ride of the Valkyries and other outlets have reached out to the team for comment, but as of publication time we have not received a response as to whether the team contacted Horan or further investigated these allegations as part of the hiring process.
A big question for the team going forward is how their culture and style of play will adjust under Benstiti. He addressed that in his opening remarks, saying “The biggest challenge is not changing mindsets. The club has to keep its values of solidarity, respect for the players, and retain its family spirit. Of course, we want to improve the club, but we have to make sure the transition is smooth. The most important thing is to work together toward the same goal: the success of the club.”
Perhaps most importantly, Benstiti recognizes that coaching in the NWSL will be different from his experience leading the two powerhouse clubs of France.
“The NWSL is a new challenge that will certainly be more intense and more difficult because of the stiffer competition. Everybody can beat everybody. Every match will be a fight. That’s why this will be different, especially compared to managing in France. Claiming that our expectation is to win the championship would be pretentious for my first year. I want my players to train hard and to play hard for every minute of every game. If we do that, the results will take care of themselves.”