Tensions are already high surrounding the sold-out April 4 Basque derby after promotion-chasing Bayonne refused to apologise for online homophobic abuse by some supporters of Biarritz president Jean-Baptiste Aldigé.
Midi Olympique has reported that Bayonne fans, returning last weekend from their 17-13 defeat at Mont-de-Marsan, posted an incendiary video on social media.
The minute-long clip, which followed a clash between Bayonne mayor Jean-René Etchegaray and Aldigé, apparently showed a circle of people singing homophobic abuse about Aldigé, but it was removed the following day.
Aldigé, who is considering filing a police complaint, has since called on the Bayonne club bosses to public condemn the video and its content.
However, Bayonne administrators Pierre-Olivier Thoumieux (chairman of the supervisory board) and Philippe Tayeb (chairman of the executive board) have refused to do so.
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They have instead argued that the video was simply “an isolated act” that is unrepresentative of the Bayonne support.
“I do not want to enter into this kind of sterile controversy,” said Tayeb about the denied request from Aldigé. “I only take care of the sportsmen.”
RUGBY : Bravo à M. Jean-Baptiste Aldigé (@jbaldige président du directoire du BO @BOPweb) qui a porté plainte ce jeudi pour "injure publique en raison de l’orientation sexuelle".@FFRF @stop_homophobie @VanessLambert @Sports_gouv @LFPfr @Evra @PSG_inside https://t.co/mycv8rYteV
— Rouge Direct (@RougeDirect) March 23, 2019
Relations between the two clubs have long been strained amid speculation some years ago that they should merge and become one powerful entity for the Basque region that would be better capable of challenging in the Top 14 rather than continuing as two weaker clubs trying to compete in ProD2.
Twice beaten finalists in the Champions Cup, Biarritz, who lost those deciders respectively to Munster and Toulouse in 2006 and 2010, have fallen by the wayside ever since their relegation from the top flight in France in 2014.
Bayonne, meanwhile, were in the top flight as recently as 2017 and are currently contesting the promotion race with Brive, Nevers and Oyonnax.
Shocking stuff this ? https://t.co/5L9lrTFyjN
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 22, 2019
Biarritz aren’t the only European rugby club upset with being on the receiving end of online abuse. It was reported on Friday in Ireland that Munster have contacted police following social media harassment of their players.
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