Rugby: the oval suspended from the results of a vote under tension

The least that can be said is that the new legal incident does not come at the best time. Placed in police custody for almost nine hours on Tuesday January 24, as part of an investigation for aggravated tax fraud laundering opened in August 2020 by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), Bernard Laporte certainly emerged free, without charge or prosecution. , but his hearing came in full vote of the 1,940 oval clubs. The latter must endorse by an electronic ballot ending Thursday January 26 at noon the candidacy of Patrick Buisson, the current vice-president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) in charge of the amateur world, proposed by Bernard Laporte to take his place. at the head of the FFR during its withdrawal.

So here is Bernard Laporte, president ordered to leave his post after his conviction on December 13, 2022 to two years in prison suspended and a fine of €75,000, in particular for passive corruption, influence peddling and illegal taking of interests – conviction which he appealed – again overwhelmed by a procedure, unrelated to his previous troubles but which risks affecting the ballot. “It is perfectly scandalous that the prosecution chose the date of Patrick Buisson’s election to set that of the hearing and that the disclosure of this hearing was made the same day”thundered one of his lawyers, Mr.e Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi, lambasting “a relentlessness of the PNF”.

Very divided clubs

The club vote promises to be extremely tight. Patrick Buisson, before the ballot, applied himself to explaining his difference in the mode “He is him and I am me”. “I will not be Bernard Laporte’s potiche”he swore to Figaro. “Let’s imagine that the yes wins, I will then be deputy president, and he is not a nominee”he assured the World. Many voters, however, have the impression of being invited to a referendum for or against Bernard Laporte.

Except that the personality of the president and his legal troubles are not the only elements that concern the clubs. “All this mess doesn’t change much in our daily lives, and in terms of rugby’s image, I’m not sure it’s really the right time, seven months before the World Cup in France, to throw the baby out with the bathwater and embark on a long election campaign”loose, on condition of anonymity, an amateur club president from the South West.

Patrick Buisson plays on this concern, arguing “necessary stability” that he represents. On the contrary, the opposition led by the collective Ovale ensemble and embodied by Florian Grill, candidate defeated by nothing for the presidency of the FFR in 2020 (49% against 51%), believes that it is urgent to turn the page Laporte to approach the World Cup with a renovated FFR. Both parties said they were confident before the start of the ballot. Since then, they keep silent and therefore do not comment on the latest developments concerning Bernard Laporte.

Under ministerial pressure

Several scenarios are possible depending on the results. If the candidacy of Patrick Buisson is validated, the opposition has already announced that it would accept it. On the other hand, it demands, in the event of a “no”, the rapid organization of new federal elections. Which is not an obligation. The statutes of the FFR indeed offer Bernard Laporte and the federal steering committee the possibility of proposing a new name for a new vote, and even of repeating the operation until acceptance by the clubs. Can the oval allow such a waltz-hesitation?

The prospect does not delight Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. The Minister of Sports was also invited to the steering committee which must debrief the vote the day after the election, Friday January 27. “I have no doubt that the steering committee will draw conclusions responsibly when it comes to analyzing this consultation, both the rate of participation, the response given and the way in which it took place”, she said at the end of last week. A way to put pressure on the body, for a minister who has already weighed in with all her weight in favor of the withdrawal of Bernard Laporte. The hypothesis of new elections would not displease him.


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