Noël Le Graët, Bernard Laporte, Bruno Martini… French sport is in turmoil

FFF President Noel Le Graet in Paris on July 12, 2016. (©AFP/Archives/ALAIN JOCARD)

Football, rugby and now handball, not to mention the internal crisis within the National Olympic Committee with the conviction of the head of their League for “corruption of a minor”: for several months, extra-sport cases have been accumulating in French sports. The 2024 Paris Olympics is approaching in a year and a half.

Noël Le Graët at the French Football Federation

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 leader 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.

In September 2022, the minister who suggested sexist behavior may be under pressure after the publication of a journalistic investigation, also decided to launch this audit after the leader’s controversial statements 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.

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Bernard Laporte, in the French Rugby Federation

Bernard Laporte (FFR)
Bernard Laporte (FFR) (©Icon Sports)

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.

The representative had barely launched a referendum to nominate the president when he was held in police custody for several hours Tuesday on charges of aggravated money laundering in a separate case from his conviction. 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 fired from his post as head of the Mondial-2023 organizing committee in October and was the subject of a judicial investigation due to his management experience.

Bruno Martini in the National Handball League

Explosion. French handball woke up to a shock on Wednesday as the French team played the World Cup in Poland.

Former French handball goalkeeper Bruno Martini, December 3, 2014 in Paris.
Former French handball goalkeeper Bruno Martini, December 3, 2014 in Paris. (©AFP/Archives/Franck FIFE)

Bruno Martini, the former goalkeeper of the French national team, world champion and president of the National League, was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence, a fine of 2,500 euros and a 5-year ban from engaging in activities in contact with minors. for the corruption of minors and the recording of child pornography images.

Bruno Martini, 52, who has been the target of an investigation since 2020 following a complaint by a 13-year-old boy, accepted the conviction and admitted the facts on Wednesday. He then resigned as NHL president.

And even within the organizing committee of the Olympic Games

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 that conflict, the former FFF vice-president was elected in mid-December when he returned to work through an internal audit of certain expenses, returning just over €4,000 to the Olympic body.

Source: © 2023 AFP

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