Financial slippage, fear over the organization of the event, accusation of harassment… In an attempt to extinguish the fire that is taking hold around Claude Atcher, former director general of GIP France 2023 responsible for organizing the World Cup rugby, the former strongman of French rugby took the floor. In a statement, Claude Atcher, dismissed last October due to “alarming managerial practices”, tried to respond to articles published in L’Equipe on Thursday.
In particular on the question of the finances of France 2023 and the promises of benefits which have melted (from 200 million euros in 2017 to around 40 million) due in particular to “the uncontrolled commitments of the former general manager” according to L’Equipe, which quotes the report of the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF). For Claude Atcher and his lawyers, “the drop in the GIP’s forecast result cannot (him) be attributed”. The former boss indicates that “the accounts of the GIP have never been disputed during the four years during which (he) ensured the general management”. He quotes in particular the last board of directors in which he participated on June 16, 2022, which according to him “validated unanimously by its members a forecast profit result of 68 million euros”. The ensuing drift would result from an “increasing privatization of the event” since its departure.
Claude Atcher also assures that “all the allegedly contentious expenses” were “duly recorded and charged to the accounts without being the subject of the slightest criticism”. “None of these expenditures, representing less than 0.1% of the GIP’s surplus result, is likely to “endanger the finances of the World Cup”! “, he insists, taking back the title of L’Equipe.
The former managing director also speaks of “sterile controversies relayed opportunely, on the eve of important industrial tribunal decisions for him”, and “welcomes the opening announced by the media of various investigations which will allow him to restore a semblance of balance”. Claude Atcher is challenging his dismissal before the industrial tribunal.
The GIP promises a financial audit
Implicated indirectly, by information from L’Equipe and by Claude Atcher, the current leaders of the GIP have also reacted. The GIP, in which the French Rugby Federation (FFR) has a majority of more than 60% and the minority state, thus affirmed Thursday in a press release sent to AFP that it intends to “secure the organization of the tournament” .
To clarify the accounts, he also announced that he was launching “a complete financial and accounting audit mission by the spring to ensure the compliance of all the accounting and financial operations of the entities of the committee of organization since their creation to their obligations and commitments”.
He also explains that he “drove” from the report of the finance inspectorate for “a budget review” 2018-2023 and will present on February 2 “an updated budget” which will integrate for the first time “all the perimeters of the committee organization (GIP, CFA Campus 2023, GIE and Endowment Fund)”.
The GIP assured AFP that the event would “deliver a positive result at the level of that of the best World Cups, which will be redistributed to French rugby”. In reality, difficult to know where the accounts are. In the event of a financial disaster, the State has guaranteed up to “162.45 million euros” according to the 2019 Finance Act.