Did Bernard Laporte drive for Altrad?

Did Bernard Laporte drive for Altrad?

When they met in the summer of 2016, the pair shared a mild affection for the National League (which runs professional rugby). But everything opposes them financially. Altrad is at the head of a service group for the construction industry which generates 2.4 billion euros in turnover. Bernard Laporte has left the Toulon club. His company BL communication certainly holds substantial stakes in companies (including a casino) but its turnover is meager.

Of rugby and money

When they see each other, they talk about rugby. But also money. Mohed Altrad says he is ready to extend 1.3 million euros per year to have “Bernie” as manager in Montpellier. But he has already planned to take the “federation”. Altrad offers Laporte another contract. Against the right to use his image and the holding of a few conferences, the businessman is ready to extend 150,000 euros.

The contract will be signed on February 19, 2017, two months after the FFR elections. A form of original sin. Strangely, Mohed Altrad will pay the full amount to Bernard Laporte but the benefits will never take place. And no one at the Federation seems to have been aware of the link between the new president and the boss of the Montpellier club.

It is in the light of this contract that the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), alerted by a report from the French Anti-Corruption Agency (Afa) then from the Ministry of Sports, will check whether the actions of the President of the FFR conceal not counterparts. At a minimum, the survey reveals a certain amateurism in which Altrad will never have had to complain about the FFR. The court will have to say whether the facts retained relate to offenses of illegal taking of interests (by having presided over proceedings or signed documents favorable to Altrad), influence peddling, corruption.

From January 28, 2017, Mohed Altrad congratulates himself in an email to a collaborator on his good relations with the boss of the FFR. “BL supports the file and does the maximum lobbying for us. This is his plan to take over the English club Gloucester. The holding by the same shareholder of two European clubs is not self-evident. Within the steering committee of the FFR, the case is not debated. Chaired by Bernard Laporte, it gives its agreement in principle. It remained to convince the EPCR (European professional club rugby). The day the body examines the file, Bernard Laporte himself makes the trip instead of the designated representative of the FFR. The file will finally be abandoned by Altrad. But for the PNF, the diligence of Bernard Laporte is enough to justify prosecution.

Burning fusion

On March 7, the two men meet again, this time around the “flocking” contract for the France team jersey. Against 1.8 million euros, the Altrad group obtains the right to add the mention “#France2023 supported by Altrad”. If faced with the police, some FFR executives (in trouble with the Laporte team) were moved by the low amount, marketing agencies questioned found it consistent with regard to the hybrid character and limited to 9 months of the operation. The PNF observes, however, that this market was passed over the counter, without consulting the marketing department of the FFR.

Ten days later, on March 17, French rugby saw a psychodrama. The two Parisian clubs, Racing and Stade Français, announce their merger. Storm. At the Stade Français, the players go on strike. In Racing, it’s a shock. The League decides to postpone two matches scheduled for the next day, Montpellier-Racing and Castres-Stade Français. Mohed Altrad, who accuses Jacky Lorenzetti (Racing boss) and Paul Goze (League boss) of “making it rain or shine”, disagrees and lets it be known. In the process, the FFR, without taking the opinion of the steering committee, announces that it will assert its right to reform this postponement decision. The administrative court seized in summary by the League will refuse to cancel the reform. But on appeal, the Council of State will give reason to the League.

Postponed to April 22, the match is played with high tension in the stands. Showered by the decision of the Council of State, supporters of Montpellier brandish unfriendly banners at the place of Jacky Lorenzetti and Paul Goze. League sanction: 70,000 euros fine and one game suspension. Once again, Altrad is not happy. And appealed to the FFR.

‘Rugby’s best interests’

The FFR disciplinary appeal committee meets on June 29 and confirms the sanctions against the club. But the next day, the president of the commission Jean-Daniel Simonet changed his mind! The fine is reduced to 20,000 euros and the suspension cancelled. In the morning, Bernard Laporte had cracked a call to Jean-Daniel Simonet. Was he decisive in the reversal of the president of the commission? Resigning member of the commission (appointed by the League), Philippe Peyramaure reported a call from Simonet relating the phone call from Bernard Laporte, furious at the sanctions and asking “in the name of the best interests of rugby” that those these are reduced. All round in front of the police, Jean-Daniel Simonet, for his part, reported a call (in reality several) certainly “inappropriate” but in no way “threatening” and which had given him “new light” on the thorny file… Until convincing him to call in turn two members of the commission to pull off a modification.

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