It was a long-awaited explanation between the current sports minister and a former portfolio holder. Amélie Oudéa-Castera received, Thursday, December 22, in Paris, Bernard Laporte, president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) and former Secretary of State of the Fillon government (2007-2009). During this interview, the manager, sentenced to two years in prison, suspended, 75,000 euros fine and two years of prohibition to exercise any function related to rugby – in particular for “passive corruption”, “trafficking of ‘influence’ and ‘illegal taking of interests’ – intended to convince the minister that after appealing against this judgment it was possible for him to remain president of the FFR while putting himself “withdrawn” of the post.
During the judgment of December 13, Mr. Laporte was found guilty of having rendered a series of arbitrations favorable to the businessman and president of the Montpellier club Mohed Altrad, from which he received 180,000 euros, in March 2017, in return for a fictitious image contract. Justice had then pointed “his lack of awareness of the illegality and seriousness of these breaches of probity”. In this case, Mr. Altrad was sentenced to an eighteen-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 50,000 euros.
Thursday, after more than an hour and a half of interview, Mr. Laporte, accompanied by the general manager of the FFR, Laurent Gabbanini, appeared briefly on the ministry’s porch, battered by the rain. Just enough time to slip, smiling, that the date had been “very constructive”a qualifier also retained by the ministry which evokes a discussion “thorough, frank and direct”.
A close match
Beyond the usual formulas, the two parties played a tight match. On the one hand, Mr. Laporte wishes to remain at the head of the FFR, considering that a resignation would amount to recognizing his guilt in a case for which, thanks to his appeal, he is still considered innocent. On the other hand, the objective of Mme Oudéa-Castéra is “Don’t let the crisis set in” within the authorities of French rugby and “succeed in the 2023 World Cup”, which will take place in France from September 8 to October 28, 2023.
At the end of this meeting, the Ministry of Sports issued a press release demanding that the “withdrawal” promised by Mr. Laporte either “accompanied by all the guarantees necessary for its effectiveness”. Concretely, learned The world, the minister asked Mr. Laporte “the withdrawal of all its functions and all its prerogatives” and “to list in writing everything he renounces”. Bernard Laporte has undertaken to bring together the federal office of the FFR on Friday, December 23 to provide answers to the minister.
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