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'Dirty little idiot': Rugby World Cup Chief stood down after bullying scandal

By Sam Smith
Steering committee CEO of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, Claude Atcher leaves after a speech as part of the inauguration of the "We love 2023 tour", a train launched for the 2023 rugby world cup - Webb Ellis Cup, at the Paris' gare de Lyon, on September 8, 2020, in Paris (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

Rugby World Cup organising Chief Claude Atcher has been suspended by the French government sending the tournament’s organising committee into disarray.


His suspension and removal as head of the tournament’s organising committee came after an investigation into complaints of bullying, where Atcher allegedly told one female employee “you’re a dirty little idiot.”

The allegations of misbehaviour at work were published in French news publication L’Equipe, with up to 15 firsthand accounts by employees a couple of months ago.

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Many had suffered panic attacks and burnout after suffering verbal abuse under a workplace culture described as a “climate of terror” at Groupement d’Interet Public (GIP) France 2023, the organising body.

The government intervened in quick fashion after uncovering “alarming managerial practices” and “infringements of financial probity” during their investigation.

Atcher will face a disciplinary hearing over the matter in addition to the trail he is due to face along with FFR president Bernard Laporte over a separate corruption charge.

He will no longer be involved ‘directly or indirectly’ with GIP while his deputy while take over in the interim.


World Rugby have issued a statement on the matter but have confidence that the host nation will be ready to deliver the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“World Rugby was deeply concerned by the allegations made through the French media,” a statement read.

“The wellbeing of the rugby family is paramount and central to the values of unity, inclusivity and fun that epitomise Rugby World Cup, the sport’s ultimate celebration of togetherness.”


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