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RUGBY – The 2023 Rugby World Cup, organized in France, is in turmoil. The Ministry of Sports decided this Wednesday, June 22 to seize the labor inspectorate on “worrying elements” linked to the “social climate” within the organizing committee led by Claude Atcher after an investigation by the newspaper The Team published this Wednesday, June 22.
In a long article, the sports daily details “the extremely degraded working climate within the organizing committee of the 2023 World Cup”. With great detail, he recounts a “deep social malaise”, where burn outs, resignations and anxiety attacks mingle under the influence of a “management by terror” set up by Claude Atcher and his chief of staff.
“To assert his authority, Claude Atcher needs to denigrate, to verbally abuse”, tells in particular to The Team a former employee of the organizing committee, who no longer returned to work after a terrible anxiety attack. “He is not shy about it. He used to say that to be respected, you have to be afraid. His great specialty is to humiliate in front of everyone”.
It is to “shed light on this situation” that the new Minister of Sports has decided to seize the labor inspectorate as well as “the ethics committee of the Public Interest Group” (GIP) of the World Cup, has added the minister in a press release.
She wants the conclusions of “these investigations to be sent to her as soon as possible”. “The social partners will be brought together tomorrow (Thursday) by the general management of the GIP and fully associated with this investigation and analysis process.”
Tried in September on suspicion of favoritism
Questioned by AFP this Wednesday evening, Claude Atcher did not wish to react, indicating only “to let the people responsible for seeking the truth do their job”.
In the process, the French Rugby Federation (FFR), chaired by Bernard Laporte, announced that it would convene the economic and social committee of France-2023 “so that a social investigation is carried out as soon as possible”. “The FFR joins the State in its desire to shed light on the internal situation,” she added.
Director general of France-2023, Claude Atcher, will also be tried in September, with the president of Montpellier Mohed Altrad and Bernard Laporte, in the context of suspicions of favoritism around the sponsorship of the XV of France. He will appear for “concealment of breach of trust”, “abuse of corporate assets” and “concealed work by concealment of activity”.
Justice suspects him of having benefited in particular, between 2017 and 2018 via non-existent services paid to his company Score XV, of around 80,000 euros that Bernard Laporte would have diverted to the detriment of the FFR.
“Mister 2023”, the former third line has established himself for more than thirty years as a major player in world rugby, even to the point of being named 7th in the ranking of the most influential personalities in world rugby, established in 2020 by the magazine Rugby World.
It must be said that Atcher, a former footballer who came to rugby late, is credited with obtaining the organization of the 2007 and 2023 World Cups for France, that of 2019 for Japan.
“Collaborators under pressure”
The Minister of Sports explained that she “knows the daily involvement” of the GIP teams and “assures them of the full support of the State so that they can continue their mission in the working conditions and the serenity that they deserve.
In a press release, the GIP ensures for its part “to take the full measure of the situation” while affirming that “the leadership and authority of Claude Atcher are essential to set and stay the course until the final closing of the Cup. of the world of rugby”. The “strict and rigorous planning” of this event, he adds, “is likely to generate discomfort among certain employees, who may, in this context, feel under pressure”.
The GIP also explained that “the organization of an international event such as the Rugby World Cup implies, de facto, a sustained pace of work within particularly tight deadlines, which are the norm in the event”.
It must “respect the deadlines that have been set jointly with the International Rugby Federation (World Rugby) to carry out an event that meets the expectations of athletes, fans and economic partners, and makes it possible to free up financial resources to allow a lasting legacy to amateur rugby throughout France”.
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