Football, rugby, handball: French sports weighed down by business – France

Football, rugby and now handball, with the arrest of the head of their League for “corruption of a minor”, not to mention the internal crisis within the National Olympic Committee: for several months, cases outside of sports have been piling up in French sport. so the Olympic Games to be held in Paris in 2024 are approaching in a year and a half.


It is an unprecedented crisis that has swept through the French Football Federation for several weeks, named after its president, Noël Le Graet. Accustomed to polemics and sound bites, the 81-year-old Breton leader has plunged the FFF into a never-ending vortex. Targeted by an audit mission launched a few weeks ago by Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, he is now the subject of a judicial investigation for sexual and moral harassment. The investigation follows a “sexist outrage” report by auditors commissioned by the Sports Ministry to uncover dysfunction within the body. According to Le Monde newspaper, the report follows a statement by Sonia Suid, the agent of several French international players, which was published in the media and condemned Le Graet’s insistence.

The minister, who has been under pressure since the publication of a journalistic investigation into possible sexist behavior by So Foot magazine in September 2022, decided to launch this audit after the leader’s angry comments about Zinedine Zidane, which led to his exit from the Federation. Since then, Mr. Le Graet has refused to resign. The interim audit report is expected on Monday.

Noel Le Graet. (File photo Franck Fife/AFP)


Nine months before the World Cup in France, rugby looks bad in its two most important numbers. The president of the French Federation, Bernard Laporte, was condemned by justice on December 13, 2022, together with businessman Mohed Altrad, for a corrupt deal, especially related to the sponsorship of the French team’s jersey.

After protesting his two-year suspended sentence, the 58-year-old former scoundrel tried in vain to stay in office, eventually accepting an almost total recusal but retaining his stripped-down title.

He was held in police custody for several hours on Tuesday on charges of aggravated tax evasion in a separate case for which he was convicted, ahead of the start of a referendum to appoint a representative president. According to his tax adviser, Me Thierry Nesa, this would be “a donation made more than twelve years ago”.

Another French rugby powerhouse, Claude Atcher, was dismissed as head of the 2023 World Cup organizing committee in October and has been the subject of a judicial investigation over his management experience.


Explosion. French handball woke up to a shock on Wednesday as the French team played the World Cup in Poland. Former Barjots goalkeeper, world champion and National League president Bruno Martini was arrested in Paris on Monday as part of an investigation into “corruption of a minor” and “recording of child pornography”.

After the complaint of a 13-year-old teenager, 52-year-old Bruno Martini, who has been the target of the investigation since 2020, was taken into police custody. On Wednesday, he was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence and fined 2,500 euros for corruption of a minor and recording child pornography. The 52-year-old former goalkeeper of the French national team immediately resigned from the post of president of the National Handball League (NHL), the organization said in a press release.

(FILES) In this September 11, 2012 file photo, Bruno Martini, then general manager of French handball team Paris Saint-Germain, gives a press conference at the Parc des Princes in Paris.  52-
Bruno Martini. (File photo Franck Fife/AFP)


For months, the National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) has been divided. Its president-elect in June 2021, Brigitte Henriques, filed a complaint for “psychological abuse” against her former right-hand man, Didier Seminet, who herself took legal action for “defamation” and “breach of trust”.

The conflict has torn apart the Olympic body, just as the Olympics are fast approaching. After a two-month sabbatical following this conflict, the former FFF vice-president was arrested by an internal audit on certain expenses when he returned to work in mid-December, returning just over €4,000 to the Olympic body.

epa07629353 Former France international Michael Silvestre (left) and French Football Federation (FFF) Vice President Brigitte Henriques attend the first FIFA Women's Football Convention in Paris, France.
Brigitte Henriques. (Photo archive Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA)

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