It will not be Patrick Buisson. Called to vote since Monday to validate or invalidate the appointment of the current vice-president as deputy president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), the amateur clubs voted against, following the referendum which was organized from Monday January 23 to Thursday January 26 at noon. This refusal comes two days after the placement in police custody, Tuesday, of Bernard Laporte – for a case different from that for which he was condemned in mid-December in the first instance for corruption -, the boss of French rugby, who has officially “withdrawn” of the federation. The authorities of hexagonal rugby are sinking into the crisis.
Called to respond – electronically – to the question “Do you approve of Mr. Bernard Laporte’s proposal to appoint Mr. Patrick Buisson as Deputy Chairman of the FFR?” “, the 1,490 amateur rugby clubs answered “against” to 51.06%, according to results communicated Thursday and validated by the committee of ethics and professional conduct of French rugby, guarantor of the ballot.
In the name of watchwords “continuity”, “stability” and ” serenity “, Patrick Buisson called, for a week to trust him, the former scrum-half with a long career as a leader – in Uzès, in the Gard, then in the committee of Provence. In this year when French rugby will host, from September 8 to October 28, the Men’s Rugby World Cup, the current vice-president of the FFF insisted: “We shouldn’t be in the division: what we want is stability. » However, on Thursday, the clubs rejected the candidacy of the one who claimed to want “embody the end of business”as demanded by the opposition to Bernard Laporte.
New referendum or elections?
Close to Bernard Laporte, whose team he joined in 2016 after having worked under his predecessor, Pierre Camou, Patrick Buisson is part of the steering committee of the FFR, which has never dissociated himself from the facts of “passive corruption”, “influence peddling”, “illegal taking of interests”, “misuse of corporate assets” and “concealment of abuse of corporate assets” for which the former coach of the XV of France was convicted at first instance in December . Bernard Laporte appealed against this conviction and is therefore still considered innocent.
Following the Laporte trial, sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra insisted that the president, who initially “did not consider giving up his duties”, withdraws. What he did, at the beginning of January, by abandoning all his prerogatives and by proposing, in accordance with the statutes of the FFR, a delegate president to replace him.
The result of this referendum is also a victory for the opposition to Bernard Laporte within the FFR, led by the president of the Ile-de-France League Florian Grill. His collective Ovale ensemble wants new elections to be held since the sentencing of Bernard Laporte to a two-year suspended prison sentence for having tied a “corruption pact” with the president of the Montpellier club Mohed Altrad. In vain, so far.
In its press release, the FFR specifies that“a steering committee will be held this Friday in the presence of the Minister of Sports to decide on the follow-up to be given to the result of this consultation”. If the opposition demands the holding of elections (possible within six weeks), according to the federal statutes, Bernard Laporte theoretically has the possibility of proposing a new name in the referendum. The Minister of Sports, who follows very closely the problems of governance of sports federations, will she find this option feasible?
Less than two weeks before the start of the Six Nations Tournament, in which the XV of France is holding the trophy, French rugby has not finished rocking.