Rugby. Scandal in France 2023: World Cup leader in turmoil

Claude Atcher, head of the organizing committee for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, during a press conference in Paris, December 14, 2020. (©AFP/Archive/FRANCK FIFE)

That Rugby World Cup France 2023 is in an uproar: The sports ministry decided on Wednesday to seize the labor inspectorate over “concerning elements” related to the “social climate” within the organizing committee under the leadership Claude Atcher according to an investigation by the newspaper L’Équipe.

In a long article, the daily sports newspaper describes “the extremely deteriorated working atmosphere in the organizing committee of the 2023 World Cup”. He tells in detail about a “ deep social malaise », where mingle Burn out, resignations and anxiety attacks under a “management by terror” instituted by Claude Atcher and his chief of staff.

In order to “shed light on this situation”, the new sports minister decided to commission the labor inspectorate as well as “the ethics committee of the Public Interest Group” (GIP) of the World Cup, the minister added in a press release. She wants the results “of these investigations to be sent to her as soon as possible”. “The social partners will be brought together tomorrow (Thursday) by the management of GIP and fully involved in this investigation and analysis process. »

The FFR initiates an investigation

Asked by theAFP Wednesday evening, Claude Atcher didn’t want to react and just said, “Let the people in charge of finding the truth do their job”. The French Rugby Federation (FFR), chaired by Bernard Laporteannounced that it would convene the Economic and Social Committee of France in 2023 “so that a social survey “. “The FFR joins forces with the state to shed light on the internal situation,” she added.

The Director General of France 2023, Claude Atcher, will also meet with the Presidents of Montpellier, Mohed Altrad and Bernard Laporte, in September over suspicions of favoritism linked to the sponsorship of the XV. taken to court by France. He will appear on charges of “concealing infidelity,” “misuse of company assets,” and “concealing activity by concealment.”

The judiciary suspects him of having benefited between 2017 and 2018, in particular through non-existent services paid to his company Score XV, of around 80,000 euros, which Bernard Laporte would have diverted at the expense of the FFR. “Mister 2023”, the former third line, has established itself as one of the most important players in world rugby for more than thirty years, even going as far as being named the 7the the 2020 ranking of the most influential people in world rugby by Rugby World magazine.

It must be said that Atcher, a former footballer who came to rugby late, is credited with organizing the 2007 and 2023 World Cups for France and 2019 for Japan. The Minister of Sport stated that he knew “the daily commitment” of the GIP teams and “assures them of the full support of the State so that they can continue their mission in the working conditions and serenity they deserve.

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“Employees who feel under pressure”

For its part, in a press release, the GIP ensures “to take full measure of the situation” and reiterates that “Claude Atcher’s leadership and authority are essential to chart and sustain the course towards the final conclusion of the Rugby World Cup. The “strict and rigorous planning” of this event, he adds, “is likely to create some uneasiness among some staff who may feel pressured about this.”

The GIP also stated that “the organization of an international event such as the Rugby World Cup de facto implies a sustained pace of work within particularly tight deadlines, which are the norm at the event”. It must “comply with the deadlines set jointly with the International Rugby Federation (World Rugby) to stage an event that meets the expectations of athletes, supporters and business partners, allowing financial resources to be freed up to enable a lasting legacy of amateur rugby throughout France”.

Credit: © 2022 AFP / By Nicholas MC ANALLY, Deborah CLAUDE. Paris (AFP), with Simon Galinier.

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