Bernard Laporte ends up leaving the presidency of the French Federation

Bernard Laporte ends up leaving the presidency of the French Federation

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The Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, announced on Friday the resignation of Bernard Laporte from the presidency of the French Rugby Federation, from which he had withdrawn after his conviction for corruption at first instance. This central figure of French rugby for more than twenty years has failed to stay in control.

“I can confirm the resignation of Bernard Laporte”, declared, Friday January 27, the Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, to journalists present in front of the premises of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) in Marcoussis, near Paris.

A meeting of the FFR steering committee was to be held to draw the conclusions of the vote organized this week among some 1,500 French rugby clubs, which resulted in a disavowal for the outgoing president. The question put to them, after the withdrawal of Bernard Laporte, was simple: “Do you approve of Mr. Bernard Laporte’s proposal to appoint Mr. Patrick Buisson as President-delegate of the FFR?”

The response was just as good: 51.06% of voters said “no” to this option, with a turnout close to 91%. Patrick Buisson is close to Bernard Laporte, who retired after his conviction in December, while retaining his title.

The Minister of Sports immediately welcomed “the very strong participation of clubs in this democratic time, which was essential after the conviction at first instance of Bernard Laporte and his withdrawal”.

“Rapidly stabilize clear and legitimate governance”

“I have confidence in the fact that these exchanges will make it possible to find a way to quickly stabilize clear and legitimate governance, while continuing to prepare effectively and calmly (…) the 2023 World Cup that our country has the honor to welcome”, added the minister, referring to the steering committee on Friday.

New federal elections could now be organized, after the appointment of an interim president. This option is the one favored by the opposition to Laporte, including Florian Grill, according to whom “the clubs want to turn the page”.

Since his sentence last month to two years in prison suspended for corruption, the minister pushed towards the exit the one who had occupied this same position in the government between 2007 and 2009, after having been coach of the Blues (2000-2007) and before seize the presidency of the federation at the end of 2016. Having appealed the decision, the sentence of Bernard Laporte, accompanied by a ban on exercising his activity as president of the FFR, was not immediately enforceable.

The former coach of the Blues had therefore refused to resign but accepted, under the joint pressure of the Minister of Sports, the National Rugby League (LNR) and the ethics committee of the FFR, to withdraw behind a deputy president until the appeal trial, which should only take place after the Mondial-2023.

But his position had been further weakened by his police custody for a few hours, Tuesday, January 25, the day after the opening of the vote, in a case of money laundering of aggravated tax fraud. Even if he had come out free without prosecution at this stage.

“It is perfectly scandalous that the prosecution chose the date of the election of Mr. Patrick Buisson to fix that of the hearing and that the disclosure of this hearing was made the same day”, had protested one of the lawyers for Bernard Laporte, Mr.e Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi, castigating with AFP “a relentlessness of the PNF”.

With AFP

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