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France Women's World Cup features seven players from champions Lyon

Lyon Women's team players celebrate after scoring a goal against Chelsea in their Champions League semifinal first leg.
Seven players from French champions Lyon were included in France's Women's World Cup squad.

Women's World Cup hosts France left out Paris Saint-Germain striker and league top scorer Marie-Antoinette Katoto from a 23-strong squad announced by coach Corinne Diacre on Thursday.

Diacre, who named her players live on the main TF1 television channel, said it had been a difficult but considered decision not to include the 20-year-old, who has scored 22 league goals.

Diacre's television appearance marked the first time ever a French Women's team head coach had gone live on French TV during the news to announce a World Cup squad, which shows the growing importance of women's football in France.

"I have taken tough decisions. I have made choices. This is my list. I don't feel like I am relieved. The last few days have been long and the night short," Diacre, who has been critical of Katoto's international performances, explained of her selections.

"Marie-Antoinette has enormous potential. She's young now, and she's still got her life ahead of her," she added.

"The French team is going to have amazing experiences in the years to come. In my opinion, she was lacking something, and others showed a little bit more [potential]. And so I made a hard choice, I know."

Guingamp striker Emelyne Laurent got the nod instead for the June 7-July 7 tournament.

France play the opening game of the nine-city tournament against South Korea at PSG's home Parc des Princes stadium.

French champions Lyon, who face Barcelona in the women's Champions League final on May 18, provided the most players, with seven of the 23.

Two foreign-based players also feature, with Arsenal goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin and Atletico Madrid defender Aissatou Tounkara.

Current captain and midfielder Amandine Henry returns along with fellow midfielder Gaetane Thiney, the second-highest French goal-scorer in the 2015 World Cup held in Canada.

Eight other players are also returning from the previous World Cup, including attackers Eugenie Le Sommer and Kadidiatou Diani, defenders Wendie Renard and Amel Majri, and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi.

The national men's team won the World Cup for the second time in Russia last year. The women are fourth in the FIFA rankings, behind champions the United States, Germany and England.

"We've still got a month of preparation before kick-off, but very honestly, the girls I've picked tonight really deserve to be there," Diacre said.

Full France Squad:

Goalkeepers: Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon), Solene Durand (Guingamp), Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (Arsenal).

Defenders: Julie Debever (Guingamp), Sakina Karchaoui (Montpellier), Amel Majri (Lyon), Griedge Mbock Bathy Nka (Lyon), Eve Perisset (PSG), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Marion Torrent (Montpellier), Aissatou Tounkara (Atletico Madrid).

Midfielders: Charlotte Bilbault (Paris FC), Elise Bussaglia (Dijon), Maeva Clemaron (Fleury), Onema Grace Geyoro (PSG, Amandine Henry (Lyon), Gaetane Thiney (Paris FC).

Forwards: Viviane Asseyi (Bordeaux), Delphine Cascarino (Lyon), Kadidiatou Diani (PSG), Valerie Gauvin (Montpellier), Emelyne Laurent (Guingamp), Eugenie Le Sommer (Lyon).

ESPN FC France correspondent Julien Laurens contributed to this report.

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