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Laporte and Altrad taken into police custody - reports

(Photo by Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images)

Ten days before seeking re-election as the main powerbroker in France rugby, Bernard Laporte was taken into custody on Tuesday morning in Paris to answer questions in the investigation into his links with the Altrad group.  

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According to rugbyrama.fr, the boss of the group, Mohed Altrad, owner of the Montpellier club and sponsor of the France national team, was also placed in police custody by the financial police, just like Claude Atcher, the boss of the World Cup 2023, and two senior officials of the federation, Serge Simon and Nicolas Hourquet.

It is alleged that Laporte is particularly suspected of having favoured Montpellier when intervening with the FFR’s appeal committee to reduce sanctions against the club at the end of June 2017.

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Laporte, the 56-year-old boss of French rugby, arrived on Tuesday morning at the premises of the Brigade for the Repression of Economic Delinquency (BRDE) to which the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) had entrusted the investigations in 2017. Simon, the vice-president of the FFR, also presented himself to the BRDE.

The former coach France (2000-2007) who went on to become Secretary of State for Sports under Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2009), Laporte has always defended himself from any intervention in favour of Montpellier, even if he admitted to having telephoned the chairman of the commission, Jean-Daniel Simonet.

Ministry of Sports investigators have also established in a report sent to justice that the decisions of the commission were allegedly modified between June 29 and 30, 2017. Initially, the appeal commission would have decided to confirm the sanctions announced by the League (LNR), a 70,000 fine and a closed-door match, before moving to a 20,000 fine and a stay of execution on the closed-door match. 

Three months earlier, the Altrad group, who specialise in building materials, had become the first jersey sponsor of the France XV before supporting the French candidacy in the bid to host the 2023 World Cup. The police already heard from several protagonists in 2019, in particular the three members of the FFR appeal commission who were to judge the case on June 29, 2017.

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Against a backdrop of strong tensions between the LNR and the FFR, the affair spoiled Laporte’s mandate as FFR president and it now threatens to derail his re-election campaign where he is running against Florian Grill. Laporte’s lawyer Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi on Monday denounced the timing of his detention so close to the election.  

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Turlough 1 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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