French rugby shaken by the custody of its president

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The president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Bernard Laporte blasted a “destabilization” in a letter to French clubs, broadcast on September 22, 2020 during his custody. This ex-Secretary of State for Sports is questioned by the financial police, like four other people, in a preliminary investigation into his alleged links with the Altrad group.

« Press campaign […] expertly orchestrated », « method […] revolting “: This September 22, 2020, Bernard Laporte does not have enough harsh words to qualify his placement in police custody in Paris by the financial police, as part of a preliminary investigation opened in 2017.” When justice mixes with politics, both weaken », Criticized the boss of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) in a letter to the clubs on Tuesday.

The former secretary of state for sports (2007-2009) refers to the election of the president of the FFR, scheduled for October 3, and during which Bernard Laporte intends to run for his own succession. ” 10 days before a crucial deadline for our Federation, a coordinated campaign of destabilization falls on French rugby », He assures.

A suspicious intervention in 2017

The former coach of the XV of France (1999-2007) is at the heart of a scandal that has shaken French rugby for three years. Bernard Laporte is suspected of having favored Montpellier Hérault Rugby (MHR), a club whose owner is businessman Mohed Altrad, by intervening with the FFR’s appeal committee to reduce the sanctions against the MHR , end of June 2017. However, the Altrad group is one of the major backers of French rugby and the French team.

The boss of this group specializing in building materials was also taken into police custody by the financial police, as was Claude Atcher, the boss of the Organizing Committee for a 2023 World Cup scheduled in France, and two senior officials of the Federation, Serge Simon and Nicolas Hourquet.

« Unworthy of the justice of a country like France »

Bernard Laporte has always defended himself from any intervention in favor of Montpellier, even if he admitted to having telephoned the chairman of the commission, Jean-Daniel Simonet. Inspectors general of the Ministry of Sports, however, established in a report sent to justice that the decisions of the commission were “modified”, between June 29 and 30, 2017, a schedule that corresponds to this phone call. Initially, the appeal committee would have decided to confirm the sanctions pronounced by the National Rugby League (LNR) against the MHR, a 70,000 euros fine and a game behind closed doors, before going to 20,000 euros fine and a stay of the game behind closed doors.

Sunday Newspaper also uncovered the existence of a contract between BL Communication, a company managed by Bernard Laporte, and Altrad Investment Authority, for an amount of 150,000 euros.

This September 22, Bernard Laporte once again defended his probity with force. What he also questions in this case is the timing of his custody. ” I am very respectful of the work of justice and I have been asking for months that this file be completed as quickly as possible., said the person concerned in his press release. The Prosecutor’s numerous refusals concerning the postponement of this hearing are unworthy of the justice of a country like France, he concludes, targeting his alleged persecutors. I disturb the professional world [du rugby, Ndlr], which I forced to contribute jointly to the amateur world, and who would very much like to see me fall in favor of a more malleable team, not to say servile ».

(With AFP)