Convicted of corruption, Bernard Laporte will appeal and remains at the head of the French Rugby Federation

With pursed lips, Bernard Laporte split, without saying a word, Tuesday, December 13, the pack of journalists massed at the gates of 32e Chamber of the Paris Criminal Court. Nine months before the start of the World Cup in France (from September 8 to October 28, 2023), the president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), 58, is going through a zone of turbulence: he has been sentenced a two-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros for “passive corruption”, “influence peddling”, “illegal taking of interests”, “misuse of corporate assets” and “concealment of abuse of corporate assets “.

After four years of proceedings conducted by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) and a highly publicized trial in September, the former coach of the XV of France can however find a reason for satisfaction: he temporarily saved his position at the summit of “his” federation, which he has chaired since December 2016.

If the court found that “the offenses committed by Bernard Laporte, upon taking office, have, by their nature and scale, seriously damaged the image of his position as manager, the image of the FFR and the image of rugby », the court did not agree with the accusation by rendering two additional sanctions unenforceable: a ban on exercising the activity of president of the FFR, for a period of two years, as well as a sentence of ineligibility in sports bodies of the same duration.

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A “need for stability” invoked

Insofar as Mr. Laporte is going to appeal, “he obviously remains president of the FFR and does not plan to abandon his functions”, hastened to declare it his lawyer, Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi, at the end of the deliberation hearing. Supported by the federal office of the FFR, which considers that “the institution needs stability” with a view to the 2023 World Cup, Mr. Laporte hardly benefits from the same support from the Minister of Sports.

In a scathing statement, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra called on the leader to step down. “In terms of good governance, the Minister considers that this new context prevents Mr. Laporte from being able, as it stands, to continue his mission in good conditions at the head of a delegated federation of a service mission. audience “, said the minister.

Distant successor to Laura Flessel, who had issued a report to justice on the Laporte case in December 2017 after an administrative investigation, the minister “therefore calls for a new democratic era to allow French rugby as quickly as possible to start again on sufficiently sound and solid bases”, while praying “the authorities of the FFR » of “take responsibility “. She specifies that she “will shortly have an exchange with the stakeholders of the governance of the FFR”.

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