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Resignation of Bernard Laporte: French rugby without a president and still in crisis



End of reign? Certainly. Game over ? This is an other story. By presenting his resignation to the steering committee of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) meeting on Friday January 27 in Marcoussis (Essonne), its president Bernard Laporte only consented to the inevitable. His position had been increasingly untenable since his conviction on December 13, 2022 to a two-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of €75,000, in particular for passive corruption, influence peddling and illegal taking of interests.

The Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, had immediately called for her resignation, very quickly followed by the National Rugby League (LNR), the governing body of professional clubs, considering that it was necessary “bringing peace to French rugby through the organization by the FFR of new elections”. By negotiating his “withdrawal” pending his appeal, Bernard Laporte refused to abdicate, counting on the consent of the clubs called upon to validate by a vote the name of his temporary replacement, the vice-president of the FFR Patrick Bush. The result of the ballot fell Thursday, January 26, a real slap in the face for an already staggering president. With more than 90% turnout, 51.06% of voters rejected the proposal.

An untenable situation

Bernard Laporte could only draw the consequences and lower his head to the exit. Except that the page is not quite turned. Because the sequel that the steering committee, sovereign in the matter, seeks to write, reflects the divisions that still agitate the “big family” of rugby. The statutes of the FFR offered two possible solutions. Or under the terms of article 21, the appointment of an interim president, then the convening next June of a general meeting of the FFR to elect a new president within the current steering committee. That is, under the terms of article 15, a resignation of the whole of the steering committee causing within six weeks the organization of new elections more widely open.

At the end of the meeting at the start of which she had invited herself on Friday morning, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra hastened to ask these elements, however affirming her preferences: ” VSwas somewhere my advisory role (…) I told them that the path which seemed to me the clearest, the clearest, the most legitimate and also the fastest, because we all want this crisis to be able to go to its end. term and be resolved quickly now, was the way for a resignation from the steering committee. » This solution was also called for by the opposition to Bernard Laporte, the Ovale ensemble collective led by the president of the Ile-de-France Regional League Florian Grill, a candidate who failed by a small amount in the last federal elections (49% compared to 51% at Bernard Laporte in 2020).

The federal opposition also resigns

But the steering committee, where 40 members sit, including 9 from the opposition, did not choose this path, favoring the appointment of an interim president and the convening in Lille at the end of June-beginning of July of an elective general assembly. evoking a “putsch”the opposition immediately decided to resign. “We cannot condone this hold-upgot carried away Florian Grill. By resigning, we put them before their responsibilities. We asked the clubs for their opinion and, today, we come to tell them that their opinion is useless. All that is not serious, all that is not responsible. It’s rude to the clubs. It’s serious. » At the start of the afternoon, the two representatives of the national rugby league (LNR) on the steering committee, its president René Bouscatel and the president of the Toulousain stadium, Didier Lacroix, resigned in turn.

French rugby therefore ends the week without a president, but still in crisis. Seven months before the World Cup, the picture may be less tarnished, but still very blurry. The XV of France is preparing to begin (Sunday February 5 against Italy) in this climate a Tournament of the Six Nations decisive for its confidence before the global deadline. Coach Fabien Galthié, long very close to Bernard Laporte, has applied himself for months to staying away from current debates, keeping the XV of France in his bubble, in his unalterable project.

This is also the only anchor of the scattered oval. Not touch the XV of France, swear all the protagonists of the current soap opera. That the Blues continue to win, shared hope. For the rest, it’s still open scrum. Which is not quite the best representation of the famous “French flair”.

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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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Rugby: Bernard Laporte released from police custody for money laundering of aggravated tax evasion



The retired president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Bernard Laporte was placed in police custody on Tuesday January 24 as part of an investigation for laundering aggravated tax evasion, said the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), confirming information from The Team. He came out of it in the evening without pursuit at this stage.

“He left without any police summons, nor presentation to an examining magistrate”told AFP one of his lawyers, Me Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi. “It is a matter in which he finds himself implicated having been associated with rugby friends a long time ago. He was neither accused of having defrauded nor of having received any sum”, he added. The national financial prosecutor’s office (PNF) confirmed that he had emerged free.

“He was summoned for a hearing by tax police, he went there with a tax lawyer”, said one of his lawyers, Me Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi. The investigations, launched in August 2020, were entrusted to the Financial Judicial Investigation Service (SEJF), said this source.

“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”he added, lambasting “a relentlessness of the PNF”.

A second case

Since Monday, and until Thursday, the approximately 1,900 amateur clubs in the country are called upon to decide on the candidacy of Patrick Buisson, vice-president in charge of amateur rugby, to take the head of the Federation during the withdrawal of Bernard Laporte, under pressure from the Ministry of Sports and the Ethics Committee of the FFR.

In rugby, awareness of player concussions

According to a source familiar with the matter, this investigation is separate from the corruption case in which Bernard Laporte was convicted at first instance on December 13. He was then given a two-year suspended prison sentence, alongside businessman Mohed Altrad, who was sentenced to an 18-month suspended prison sentence. Bernard Laporte appealed against this judgment.

The custody is also separate from the PNF’s investigation into the Rugby World Cup organizing committee. France 2023 for favouritism, influence peddling and corruption.

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Le Graët, Laporte… How to change the governance of sports federations?



► “The rather conservative world of sport is difficult to move”

William Gaspariniprofessor of sociology and sports sciences at the University of Strasbourg, specialist in sports governance

“The difficulties experienced by Presidents Noël Le Graët and Bernard Laporte in their football and rugby federations obviously raise the question of the evolution of governance within these institutions. But it is a cyclic questioning. In 2021, the renewal of presidents after the pandemic had already been the subject of a debate on the age of leaders and feminization… which had not prevented the broad re-election of Noël Le Graët, at 79 years old. The average age of sports leaders is still 64, although some federations have experienced a slight rejuvenation. In the end, there are only two women presidents out of 36 Olympic federations.

The question of the opacity of decision-making also comes up often, as does the absence of a limit to the number of terms served by the same president. These managerial techniques from another age appear to be out of step with the needs of more modern governance. The methods of internal appointment are also to be reviewed, because the elections often reveal a formal democracy, theoretical more than real. The cooptation system generally lacks transparency. In a general assembly of a departmental or regional committee, elected by the clubs, we often always find the same people, those who have time and are retired, out of step with the mass of young graduates. But without them, often volunteers, it must also be emphasized that the associative movement would not work.

Can the state reform this governance? We see it with the Le Graët case, he can actually demand accountability, since it is the State which delegates public service to the federations. But the latter are also very attentive to their autonomy and the State cannot interfere too much in their affairs. Above all, he cannot afford a general crisis with the sports movement within two years of the Olympic Games. In the case of football, the ministry is therefore calling on the authorities to move, in this case the executive committee of the federation, but I do not believe that the government is ready to go further.

He knows, however, that France is also watched with the organization of the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Games in Paris in 2024, and therefore he cannot let the image of sport continue to deteriorate. But the ridge line is hard to find. The rather conservative sports world is difficult to move. Ideally, the reform should come from the base, from athletes and clubs. But sport is not the sector of commitment and activism. So I don’t really believe it. »

► “The State cannot intervene in the internal management of a federation”

Bernard FoucherDoctor of Laws and President of the Federal Ethics Committee for French Rugby

“You have to keep in mind that the federations are associations under the 1901 law. The French Football Federation has its statutes, its members, like any association. The difficulty is that sport is a public service, which therefore comes under state management. The latter delegates its power to the federations, but retains a right of inspection, a power of supervision. The whole ambiguity is knowing how to combine the autonomy of associations and the powers that the state has. I believe that the difficulty lies in this duality.

The State officially recognizes associations and federations through approvals and delegations. It can impose a common framework so that the statutes of the federations conform to a standard statute. And, to obtain the delegation and the approval, it is necessary that the statutes are in conformity with the standard statute which the State imposes. The only thing that the State can do is therefore withdraw the approval and consider that the federation it wishes to sanction is no longer recognized as the depository of the right conferred on it by the State. But doing that is the atomic bomb assured. Furthermore, the State cannot intervene in the internal management of a federation. Only members of the federation can.

The law of March 2, 2022, aimed at democratizing sport in France, sought to impose more democratic governance on federations through these standard statutes. In particular with a limitation of mandates, the creation of ethics committees or the prevention of conflicts of interest. The federations are brought, if they want to preserve their approval, to be always in conformity with their statute.

Furthermore, each federation can adopt its own provisions without waiting for the law. There are systems that preceded what the law of 2022 imposed in terms of prevention. In the event of a problem, the ethics committee could intervene, but it all depends on how it works, which is specific to each federation. Regarding the rugby ethics committee, we do not have the possibility of making binding decisions. What we can do is give opinions, recommendations, injunctions, like asking someone to step back. You can also go to the Disciplinary Committee.

This is a real subject and it is an object of reflection with the State and the Minister of Sports: how to improve the functioning and the role of the ethics committees? The law made these mandatory in 2022, but how are they made? Are they really independent, with a minimum of power? It varies a lot from one federation to another. »

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In rugby, awareness of player concussions



The figures are alarming. According to a study by a team from the University of Glasgow, in October 2022, former rugby players are two and a half times more likely than the general population to develop neurodegenerative diseases. The researchers looked at 412 former Scottish rugby internationals before comparing them to 1,200 people from the general population. They reveal, for example, that the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease is three times higher.

In recent decades, professional rugby has shifted towards a more physical and faster game. Players have gained muscle mass, making shocks particularly violent, and concussions more frequent. But until a few years ago, few people took into account the severity and duration of symptoms. “There has always been this tradition, like in war: if you haven’t had your face torn off by a shell, it’s because you’re fit for combat. Looking more closely, we realize that it is still much more complex »analyzes Jean-François Chermann, neurologist, specialist in France for concussions in athletes.

Changing mindsets

According to this amateur player, rugby is not dangerous, but should be practiced with caution. This requires medical supervision, at all levels, which he helped to put in place. “We voted for the HIA criteria in 2013”, he recalls. These evaluation criteria following a head injury, dubbed “concussion protocol” in France, were developed to “Improve the management of head injuries”especially in cases where “the diagnosis is not immediately apparent”, says World Rugby. In addition to this medical framework, there is a framework for the rules. “There has been a total reform on the entry into the scrum, or on the way of making the keys, for example”, reminds the specialist.

Finally, the doctor notes a precious change in mentalities. “At the time, we had a real underestimation of the troubles, the players did not want to hear about it and participated in this omerta. »

The amateur world must progress

Since then, many cases of players having attacked their clubs in court for negligence have contributed to this increased vigilance by sports authorities. Last case to date, the rugby player Alexandre Lapandry, who suffers from the after-effects of a stroke following shocks. In December 2022, he filed several complaints against ASM Clermont-Auvergne, in particular for endangering the lives of others.

The evolutions of professional rugby must now spread to the amateur world. Today, 50% of concussed athletes, all sports combined, remain on the playing area. In rugby, since the HIA protocols, this figure has fallen from 50% to 18%. Other initiatives are emerging: the neurosurgeon David Brauge has established a protocol, after a concussion, intended for all general practitioners. The idea is to rely on this local network of caregivers accessible to all amateurs in the country.

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Bernard Laporte will propose his “withdrawal” from his functions as president of the FFR



The president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Bernard Laporte, sentenced Tuesday, December 13 to two years in prison suspended for corruption, will propose Thursday to the Minister of Sports“his withdrawal” of his duties pending his appeal trial, announced Monday, December 19 evening the FFR.

Bernard Laporte, who “remain president” of the FFR, will also propose to Amélie Oudéa-Castéra her temporary replacement by a president-delegate, said the Federation in a press release, sent following the holding of a Federal Bureau in the morning.

According to the Federation, Bernard Laporte “has informed the Federal Bureau of its desire to follow the injunction of the FFR Ethics Committee to the letter”who had asked him on Friday to “withdraw temporarily, as a precaution, until a final criminal decision”.

Convicted of passive bribery and influence peddling

Therefore, the statement adds, “the Federal Office has decided unanimously by its members and in accordance with the regulations and statutes of our institution, to follow and apply to the letter the injunction of the Ethics Committee”.

In office since the end of 2016, Bernard Laporte, re-elected in 2020 for a four-year term, was found guilty on December 13 of five of the six offenses for which he was prosecuted, including those of passive corruption and influence peddling.

Having appealed the decision of the Paris Criminal Court, his suspended prison sentence, as well as the ban on exercising the activity of president of the FFR for a period of two years, are not immediately enforceable.

Amélie Oudéa-Castéra announced on Sunday that she would receive Bernard Laporte on Thursday, after having estimated, as soon as the judgment was made public, that the conviction of the former coach of the Blues made ” obstacle “ to his mission at the head of the FFR, nine months from the Rugby World Cup in France, from September 8 to October 28, 2023.

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Bernard Laporte sentenced to two years in prison suspended, French rugby in turmoil



This is the epilogue of a legal soap opera that has shaken French rugby for several months. Tuesday, December 13, the president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of €75,000 by the Paris Criminal Court for having tied “a pact of corruption” with businessman Mohed Altrad, manager of Montpellier Hérault Rugby (MHR), concerning in particular the allocation of sponsorship for the Blues jersey.

The sentence of the boss of French rugby, found guilty of passive corruption, influence peddling, illegal taking of interests and concealment of misuse of corporate assets, was accompanied by a two-year ban on exercising any function related with rugby. Bernard Laporte’s decision to appeal being suspensive, he retains his seat at the FFR, less than ten months from the World Cup in France.

Is it just a temporary reprieve for the former coach of the XV of France? Tuesday evening, the Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra estimated that his conviction “obstructed” in the pursuit of his mission at the top of the FFR, claiming in fact his replacement at the end of“a new democratic era to allow French rugby to start again on a sufficiently healthy and solid foundation as quickly as possible”.

For his part, Mohed Altrad was found guilty of active bribery, influence peddling, abuse of corporate assets, and received an eighteen-month suspended prison sentence and a €50,000 fine.

The Laporte-Altrad relationship in the sights of the judges

The origin of the case dates back to a series of arbitrations rendered in 2017-2018. Bernard Laporte allegedly used his status to interfere in favor of his friend Mohed Altrad after receiving €180,000 from him in March 2017, under an image contract that was never executed. “Each of his interventions was guided by a bias towards Mohed Altrad”, according to the court, favoring in particular the awarding of the very first sponsorship contract for the jersey in the history of the XV of France to the construction group of Mohed Altrad. At the time, Bernard Laporte brushed off criticism, promising the partnership would pay off “at least 35 million euros” over five years, for the benefit of amateur rugby.

The suspicions of favoritism went further. The president of the FFR would also have intervened to alleviate disciplinary sanctions aimed at the Montpellier club. Indicted for having maintained the postponement of matches for the benefit of the said club, the vice-president of the FFR, Serge Simon, was released. To these legal setbacks is added the recent layoff of the project manager of the organization of the 2023 World Cup, Claude Atcher, for managerial practices judged “alarming”.

The 2023 World Cup in sight

These legal disputes tarnish French rugby and contrast with the state of grace, on the ground, of the France team. Former international fly-half under the Laporte era, Yann Delaigue is however confident in the ability of French rugby to recover from the condemnation of the leader of the federation: “Rugby is, in its very essence, a sport based on the idea that no one is irreplaceable. But this verdict actually turns the oval world upside down a lot, it does not help to give a good image of our sport.. »

Max Guazzini, emblematic president of the Stade Français Paris between 1992 and 2011, sees “a case mounted in a pinch”and prefers to retain the results obtained by the one who was the successful coach of the Parisian club before taking the reins of the XV of France (2000-2007). “Since 2016, Bernard Laporte has fought for the World Cup to take place in our country when it was not won in advance. He chose a coach in the person of Fabien Galthié, who allowed our Blues to return to victory. It is largely thanks to him that tricolor rugby is doing so well. he says to The cross.

As for the supposed interferences of Bernard Laporte, Max Guazzini relativizes: “You really have to know nothing about the practices that are current in our sport to think that a president never intervenes with a disciplinary committee when there is an unjust sanction. »

The future governance of the FFR in question

However, it is the mission of the Federal Committee of Ethics and Professional Conduct of French Rugby, chaired by Bernard Foucher, to make the governance of the FFR more transparent. This entity created in 2016, concomitantly with the arrival of Bernard Laporte, benefited from “the cooperation of the federal authorities”according to this honorary member of the Council of State.

However, this body had no say in the awarding of the sponsorship contract for the Blues jersey to the Altrad group. “The contract had already been concluded, says Bernard Foucher. We simply issued recommendations on the execution of the contract to prevent potential conflicts of interest with Montpellier Hérault Rugby. » In January 2018, seized by the presidents of professional clubs, this same committee recommended the establishment of “safeguards to ensure that there is no possibility of favoritism “.

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Greener stadiums, is it possible?



What could be less ecological than a stadium welcoming tens of thousands of supporters for a sporting event? A Ligue 1 match alone generates around ten tonnes of waste; to water lawns, millions of cubic meters of water are needed every year; and hundreds of tons of CO2 are issued to transport the public to each day of the championship.

While eyes will turn in a few days to the air-conditioned stadiums erected by Qatar for the World Cup, some structures in France are already trying to green. With their hybrid lawns, the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roofs or even a rainwater recovery system, they claim eco-responsible behavior.

A growing awareness

Model clubs in terms of sustainable development? Antoine Miche, president of the Football Ecology France association, seems skeptical. “We can of course cite Lorient, which has bet on geothermal energy, or the stadiums of Lyon and Nice, which are renowned for their water recovery system. In reality, they all have their particularity, but not enough to be set up as a model”, emphasizes this specialist. While hoping that the Brest stadium, which should undergo a considerable renovation in the next few years, will be an exception.

“Overall, we can feel a growing awareness in clubs and leagues on environmental issues, believes the former international rugby player Julien Pierre, himself very committed to this subject. But their willingness to take responsibility is not enough. “85% of the stadiums belong to the communities, the effort must come from the top”, he believes.

It remains to pay the price. But today, cities do not provide sufficient resources to properly renovate sports arenas, according to Antoine Miche. “Investments to make stadiums greener run into tens of millions of euros. Cities that are in favor of it often find themselves confronted with a metropolis that does not want it; Or vice versa. Difficult, under these conditions, to obtain sufficient subsidies”, he laments.

Hybrid lawn versus artificial lawn

Despite these political uncertainties, Bertrand Picard, founder of Natural Grass, the French leader in the construction of high-level hybrid lawns, wants to believe that the world of sport will change. “We are constantly approached by clubs looking for solutions to adapt to climate change and to reduce their environmental footprint, he testifies. Our customers are a reflection of society: clubs and leagues obviously want to reduce their environmental impact, but to do so they need solutions that work. »

The hybrid turf specialist speaks with knowledge, because the technology it develops partly embodies the future of stadiums. By hybrid lawn, understand a 100% natural lawn, rooted in a substrate reinforced at the level of the roots by less than 1% of synthetic fibers, kinds of artificial roots allowing a better anchoring of the lawn. The opposite of synthetic turf, made up of 100% plastic materials.

“Hybrid lawns also allow their neighbors to benefit from the benefits of natural grass: combating heat islands through evapotranspiration (the lawn becomes a real natural air conditioner)CO capture2(up to 15 tons per year)dust filtration, retention and filtering of storm water, biodiversity…”, adds Bertrand Picard. According to him, the additional economic cost“about 20%”is offset by lower maintenance costs over the long term.

Access to the stadium, the construction site of tomorrow

For two years, an environmental label, the first in the sports field, certifies the commitment of clubs in terms of ecology. Created by Julien Pierre, Fair Play for Planet defends an economic and social development model concerned with the environment through 350 criteria. Among them, that of the accessibility of sports arenas: “The big subject of tomorrow’s stadiums lies in how to get there”, says the former professional player.

Focusing on carpooling and the accessibility of public transport, the latter regrets that many stadiums are far from urban centers. Although some clubs have set up reduced fares, or even free access, for access to public transport on match nights, the share of spectators coming to the stadium by this means does not exceed 9%, according to figures from the think Sport and citizenship tank.

Sporting events, accelerators of change?

At a time when most observers point to the environmental aberration of the World Cup in Qatar, Julien Pierre calls for a more global reflection on the holding of major sporting events. “Perhaps we should think about regionalizing things, doing less but better, he suggests. The world of sport represents only 1% of greenhouse gas emissions, but it has an exceptional power of communication. You have to surf on it. »

On the Qatar side, the carbon footprint presented by FIFA, equivalent to 3.6 million tonnes of CO2, is once again contested. According to calculations by the company specializing in the assessment of the carbon footprint of major events, Greenly, the competition should release the equivalent of 6 million tonnes into the atmosphere. A result almost twice that envisaged by the international federation. Infrastructure alone represents 27% of the carbon footprint, according to the study.

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A heavy environmental impact

According to a study by the online media Youmatter, it is necessary to count:

100,000 kWh of electricity to light a stadium for one match, i.e. the consumption of 20 households in one year.

36 million liters of water for the maintenance of the lawn of the Stade de France for one year. This equates to 720,000 ten-minute showers.

60 tonnes of CO2for car travel by one-third of supporters to an enclosure of more than 30,000 people, for one year. This is the fuel consumption for six round-the-world trips by car.

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Rugby: the XV of France extricates itself in extremis from the claws of South Africa



Rugby is a combat sport. If some were tempted to forget it, there is a team that takes care of remembering it: South Africa. In all places equal to itself, imposing confrontation and physical challenge again and again. It came close to triumphing, this South African world champion, proud and fierce as usual, this Saturday, November 12 at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille.

Except that opposite stood a XV of France who learns to get out of all situations, to bend without breaking and to carry the thrust when all seems lost. The Blues therefore reversed a very compromised situation to win in the end 30-26 and offer themselves a twelfth consecutive victory at the end of a crazy match.

Blues passed through the rolling mill

The battle was announced. Before the meeting, the tricolor coach Fabien Galthié had summarized the qualities of these South Africans that the Blues had not managed to beat since 2009. “In their culture, they have this: intensity. It’s a team that likes to move forward, which must move forward, whatever happens, with or without the ball, with a defense that throws itself at the opponent, harasses him, grabs him by the throat. » And from the outset things happened exactly that way. South Africans in rolling mode. And Blues who collect and respond.

But the characteristic of great matches is not to be satisfied with ready-made explanations. And the least we can say is that the game began to write a rather upsetting scenario. Springboks reduced to 14 after the expulsion of one of their player who was a little too furious, the Blues in excess who seemed to be in control at first but who soon gave in to the redoubled assaults of South Africans as if galvanized. Consequence: concussions in spades, and an XV of France which arrives at half-time having already emptied two thirds of its bench of substitutes.

Antoine Dupont expelled

What happens next doesn’t help. At the very beginning of the second half, an excess of commitment from captain Antoine Dupont forced the referee to show a red card, restoring the balance on the lawn: 14 against 14. The Springboks added more, advanced on all impacts and finished by taking the score. The case for the Blues is badly off, until the entry of the last substitutes, the revolt sounded in the last minutes and an unexpected test which changes the situation in extremis.

Like a week earlier when a final try by Damian Penaud offered a victory over the gong to the Blues against Australia? Not quite. Against the Wallabies, it was an individual feat that tipped the balance on the right side (30-29). Against the Springboks, it was the collective solidarity and the contribution of the finishers who immediately entered the right tempo that made it possible to win the bet. Probably not in the prettiest of ways, but with character.

“It was a bit of a war on the pitch”

“All the players went for this victory. They refused defeat. We felt it at some point. She was prowling there, she was in the stadium. We saw her, but the players refused her. At what price ! », commented Fabien Galthié after the meeting. In fact, the Blues pay dearly for their exemplary resistance. During the shock leading to the first expulsion, the center Jonathan Danty suffered a fracture of the orbital floor. The prop Cyril Baille will have to undergo minor surgery for a hernia in the groin. The second line Thibaud Flament suffers from a concussion. “I have never experienced such enormous intensity. It was a bit of a war on the pitch.”underlined the second line of the Blues Cameron Woki.

The three injured players, like Antoine Dupont sanctioned, will be absent from the last test match of this autumn tour against Japan in Toulouse on November 20. “There are positives tonight”, however wanted to retain the captain of the Blues. The victory, in fact, yet another. The ability to react, again, to get out of a bad situation. But that was hanging by a thread and the Blues also suffered a lot without being able to impose their game. It is not impossible that they will meet the Springboks in the quarter-finals of the World Cup next September. It’s not the happiest of prospects.

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In search of emotion, the public returns to French stadiums



Delighted, Hervé Beddeleem wears a broad smile when presenting his attendance figures. “When we look at the figures for the years preceding the health crisis, we realize that we have increased our classic subscriptions and our VIP subscriptions. » To explain such a situation, the executive director of BCM Basket (Gravelines-Dunkerque) believes that the maintenance of certain sports competitions, in times of Covid, has nevertheless allowed the public to “to keep a habit and an intimate attachment to sport, while cinemas were at a standstill and people were getting used to video platforms. »

Since the health crisis, the world of culture continues to suffer from public disaffection. The cinemas are gray, the theaters are empty. In this ambient slump, the world of sport stands out. In the stadiums, the public is back. According to Hervé Beddeleem, the festive spirit of a sporting event coincides with a desire of citizens to get together and celebrate positive things together.

“The return of the public would undoubtedly not have been followed without an adequate sports policy, which made it possible to bring in great players and to obtain results which encourage them to return to the stadium”he explains to justify the action of his club, faced with these new challenges. “We practiced special pricing by not increasing prices. Some were even lowered during the Coupe de France,” he remembers.

Implementation of strategies to reengage the public

This positive example does not reflect the whole of French sport. “The 2021-2022 season, which followed the crisis, was particularly difficult. The habits of the public have changed and add to an obvious problem of purchasing power”, tempers Fabien Roy, financial and administrative director of Fenix ​​Toulouse Handball. “We had as many spectators in total, but with the difference that we had twice as many matches, because of our qualification for the European Cup. That says a lot. »

Since the start of the school year, however, the trend seems encouraging: “We are back to our 2019 load factors, although it is a bit early to celebrate. » To remedy this, the club thought about a marketing strategy advocating the “spectacle stadium” where players make themselves available to the public, to encourage them to come to the stadium.

“Everyone plays the game, the players themselves are not above ground, they understand what is at stake”, explains Fabien Roy. The latter wishes to bet on a healthy collaboration between team sports: “Rugby and football players came to watch the handball matches. It’s up to the behemoths to give us a hand, if only to set an example. »

The most popular sports float

Football, the most popular sport in France, is benefiting from a substantial return of the public to sports venues. During the 2021-2022 season – the first full year after the health crisis – the occupancy rate of Ligue 1 stadiums was 73.9% compared to 73% in 2018-2019 and 71% the previous year, according to figures Professional Football League (LFP) officials. Nearly ten million supporters filled the stands of the various French stadiums last year.

These encouraging figures should not make us forget that, faced with its European competitors, the stands of the French championship are less attractive. In the Premier League, the English football championship, the occupancy rate fluctuates around 92%. In Germany, the rate remains around 95%. Only Spain and Italy seem to have lost spectators in recent years, still ensuring an occupancy rate of over 80%.

“We are going over the figures for 2019”

On the rugby side, while the first figures for the 2022-2023 financial year will soon be revealed, we are pleased with a rediscovered pre-Covid influx. “No doubt taking advantage of the 2023 World Cup effect and the good results of the Blues at the Six Nations Tournament, we see that we have achieved the best attendances in our stadiums for a decade”relates Thibault Brugeron, media manager for the National Rugby League. “This is due in particular to a massive communication campaign, at the end of the health crisis, to encourage people to return to the stadiums. »

Alain Béral, president of the National Basketball League, mentions an attendance rate in the stadiums of more than 80% this year. “We are in the process of going above the figures of 2019.”

For this leader, the aspect ” serial “ offered by the field of sport can explain the reasons for a return to normal. “Apart from obtaining broadcasting rights, which are certainly important, our priority for ten or fifteen years has been to bring people to the stadiums, which explains why our sport is perhaps ahead of others. others in France »testifies the latter.

Sport, a “personal commitment”

The main sports therefore seem to be doing well. For Robin Recours, lecturer at the Faculty of Sports Sciences in Montpellier, this is explained by “the immense catharsis space” offered by sports fields. It can be played “all the dramas of humanity. We can experience, during a match, a gigantic palette of emotions, ranging from laughter to tears, from anxiety to deliverance, from anger to sadness or joy. explains the historian.

Unlike the world of music or the theater, there are also strong personal identifications with the product in the consumption of sporting events. “An amateur basketball player identifies as a basketball player. It is therefore important for him to practice his sport but also to see what is happening on professional grounds. »

“Few shows allow such an identification, such a personal commitment to consumption”, continues Robin Recourse. Moreover, sport remains a space in which consumers often feel expert. “It’s the famous adage: we live in a country of 66 million breeders who have a clear opinion”recalls the historian.

As for stadium occupancy rates, Robin Recours believes that sports federations in France are “Historically amateur federations and have taken a long time to become professional”.“There is a conservatism on the side of sports federations when it comes to marketing the entertainment world”continues the researcher. “So if France is not a sporting country, it’s more because of a lack of resources than a lack of culture. »

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Ever bigger speakers

With more than 80,000 seats, the Stade de France remains the largest sports arena in France, ahead of the Vélodrome de Marseille (more than 67,000 seats) and the Groupama Stadium in Lyon (59,000 seats).

England has more imposing structures, with the stadiums of Wembley (90,000 seats) and Old Trafford (nearly 76,000 seats). In Spain, the Camp Nou welcomes more than 99,000 visitors. A record in Europe.

On the occasion of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a new enclosure will see the light of day in the heart of Paris, Porte de la Chapelle. The future 7,800-seat “Adidas Arena” stadium will host badminton and gymnastics events.

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