At this rate, the turpitudes and maneuvers at the top of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) will inspire the scriptwriters of television series. In a press release published on Friday January 6, the FFR announced the appointment of Patrick Buisson, vice-president in charge of amateur rugby, as a candidate for the post of deputy president of the federation.
Presented at a federal office, this choice comes from the president of the FFR, Bernard Laporte, sentenced on December 13, 2022 by the Paris Criminal Court to a two-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros for passive corruption, trafficking influence, illegal taking of interests, misuse of corporate assets and concealment of misuse of corporate assets.
Despite his appeal against the judgment, Mr. Laporte, 58, was ordered to put himself “ set back by the French Rugby Ethics Committee (CEDRF). Caught in a vice, under pressure from the National Rugby League (LNR) and the Minister of Sports, the leader accepted, on December 22, the conditions set by Mme Oudéa-Castéra to remain president of the federation, namely to renounce all the prerogatives linked to the function.
Eager not to provoke early general elections and to keep his post during the Rugby World Cup which will take place from September 8 to October 28 in France, Mr. Laporte has “studied the profiles of elected representatives of the majority compatible with such a function”.
The candidacy of Serge Simon rejected
Ultimately, he therefore set his sights on one of his relatives, Patrick Buisson. The latter, whose mandate is due to end in December 2024, at the same time as that of Mr. Laporte, will submit to the vote of the 1,900 clubs in the country his candidacy for the post of deputy president of the FFR during a referendum planned between the January 23 and 26. A referendum already rejected by opponents of Mr. Laporte, gathered around the president of the Ile-de-France league, Florian Grill.
” Consensus figure “, according to a person close to the file, Patrick Buisson was leader of the club of Uzès (Gard) and of the committee of Provence. During Mr. Laporte’s first term (2016-2020) at the head of the FFR, this 65-year-old ex-scrum half, a computer scientist by profession, oversaw the digital reform at the FFR.
The name of Mr. Buisson was preferred to that more flashy and divisive of Serge Simon, loyal lieutenant of Mr. Laporte since 2016 and first vice-president of the FFR. If he proposed for the post of deputy president, the former pillar of the French stadium saw his candidacy rejected by the ethics committee of the FFR on Thursday.
Bernard Laporte “will not officiate as a puppeteer”
The CEDRF recommended to Mr. Laporte “ to make an alternative choice », Explains the FFR. And this because the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) appealed the release of Mr. Simon for illegal taking of interests by the Paris Criminal Court on December 13.
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This opinion of the ethics committee made Pierre Blazy, Mr. Simon’s lawyer, jump: ” This story is staggering after a very clear release decision. I am surprised by the opinion of the ethics committee, which violates the classic principles of law, including the principle of the presumption of innocence, and which establishes the principle of the presumption of guilt. »
Stunned by the earthquake of the case of the alleged corruption pact between Mr. Laporte and the owner of the Montpellier club, Mohed Altrad, sentenced at first instance to eighteen months in prison suspended and a fine of 50,000 euros, the FFR leaders hope to find a form of serenity with a view to the Six Nations Tournament, which begins with a match in Italy on February 5 for the XV of France.
If his candidacy is validated after the clubs vote, Mr. Buisson will become, on paper, the real boss of French rugby at a pivotal moment. Doomed to remain in the shadows, as number one without power, until a judgment on appeal, will Mr. Laporte continue to pull the strings from a distance? His entourage sweeps away such a scenario and assures that the former coach of the XV of France “ will not officiate as a puppeteer “. By January 27, its prerogatives will be delegated to the director general, Laurent Gabbanini, as well as to the members of the federal office.
The dates of the “Laporte affair”
Laura Flessel, then Minister of Sports, announces the seizure of the General Inspectorate for Youth and Sports (IGJS) after the revelations of the Sunday newspaper on the business ties that unite Bernard Laporte, president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) since 2016, and Mohed Altrad, president of the Montpellier rugby club, and jersey sponsor of the XV of France.
The IGJS submits to the Ministry of Sports a report on the alleged pressure of Mr. Laporte on the appeal committee of the FFR so that it reduces the sanctions taken by the disciplinary committee of the National Rugby League (LNR) to against Montpellier. The Ministry of Sports decides to seize the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF).
The chained Duck indicates that the investigations extend to the conditions for obtaining the 2023 World Cup in France.
Bernard Laporte, Mohed Altrad, Claude Atcher (former leader of Score XV, a consulting agency and boss of the organizing committee of the 2023 World Cup until October 11, 2022), Serge Simon (vice-president of the FFR) and Nicolas Hourquet (in charge of international relations at the FFR) are placed in police custody.
September 7, 2022
The “Laporte-Altrad” trial opens at the Paris Criminal Court. MM. Laporte, Altrad, Atcher, Simon and Benoît Rover – the manager of the company Score XV – will be heard in turn until September 21.
December 13, 2022
Bernard Laporte was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros, along with a ban on exercising any function related to rugby, for, in particular, illegal taking of interests and influence peddling. Serge Simon, accused of illegal taking of interests, is released.
December 22, 2022
Bernard Laporte meets the sports minister, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, and agrees to step back, without resigning, from his post as president of the FFR, renouncing all of his prerogatives.
January 6, 2023
Patrick Buisson, vice-president of the FFR in charge of amateur rugby, is appointed by Bernard Laporte to occupy the post of president-delegate. The clubs affiliated with the FFR will have to approve, or not, his candidacy during a vote organized from January 23 to 26.