RWC2023 headquarters staff under investigation by French authorities

RWC2023 headquarters staff under investigation by French authorities

Staff at the French Rugby RWC2023 headquarters are under investigation by authorities, with news that the France 2023 Ethics Committee was continuing its inquiry into the operation.

Reuters stated that ‘Claude Atcher, the chief executive officer of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France [organization], has been sacked after a report by the French Labour Inspectorate found that he oversaw an “extremely degraded social environment” at the organizing committee.

The probe into allegations of corruption is ongoing. The offices of the “Groupement d’Intérêt Public (GIP) France-2023”, the organizers of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, were targeted last Wednesday. Yet the authorities have been gathering evidence and suspending individuals [like Atcher] since August, so these new developments concern all French rugby stakeholders. reported that ‘In September, French prosecutors demanded prison time for Bernard Laporte, head of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) and a former sports minister, on charges of corruption and influence-peddling. At the same trial, prosecutors called for Atcher to receive a two-year prison sentence, with one suspended.’

If these steps lead to more allegations, the timing could not be any worse. 300 days out from the start of the 2023 tournament, it is not what World Rugby or RWC2023 headquarters staff would have hoped for. Also, it certainly highlights deeper issues facing professional sports in general.

RWC2023 headquarters staff under investigation by French authorities

Atcher’s deputy Julien Collette took over from Atcher (see below) as chief executive at the RWC2023 headquarters. Her group must consolidate the organization’s role, as the Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 8 next year. The final is scheduled for October 28.

Accusations are still to be finalized, and Bernard Laporte denied the claims during his trial that closed for deliberation in September, with a ruling still awaited. He has been under a cloud since 2018, yet these latest implications come on top of the process of awarding the tournament to France in November 2017. The lobbying and the motivation by nations to support France’s bid, have been and will be questioned. So the actions of individuals like Claude Atcher could taint positive work done by others in French rugby.

Not only France, but those of World Rugby who have similar protocols and practices might also find fallout after the RWC2023 headquarters became the target of French authorities. The boil that is corruption in sports governance may be about to burst, in similar ways that FIFA and the roundball game discovered during the Sepp Blater reign.

Sometimes the mere hint of corruption and/or favoritism could be the catalyst for massive internal change.

 * the ongoing investigations will be concluded and reported on, as the process and prosecution are announced publically. Last Word on Rugby will follow any developments as they are reported.


“Main photo credit is taken from Twitter