We don’t say French researchers are asked to bite/cut off/ their to spite their own face
, but French researchers are asked to shoot their own foot
[Les chercheurs français sont amenés à se tirer une balle dans le pied
]. Except that the French meaning is a bit more lax: you don’t need to act in retaliation, just to do something that handicap only you at the end.
An idiom reminded to me by The Best Friend last weekend and which found its perfect application today, when describing the obsolescence of some French laws/attitudes (described here