Football: Noël Le Graët, a president still on borrowed time

Three days after the opening by the Paris public prosecutor’s office of an investigation into moral and sexual harassment following a report made by the auditors of the General Inspectorate for Education, Sport and Research (Igesr) , the executive committee of the French Football Federation (Comex) met again on Thursday 19 January.

A weakened position

Officially a “information point on governance” was on the agenda for this meeting by videoconference. Currently in the West Indies, the president of the French Football Federation (FFF), Noël Le Graët, did not attend the session. Weakened by numerous controversies and little phrases as well as accusations of sexist behavior vis-à-vis former employees, the former socialist mayor of Guingamp had been forced to step back on January 11, after a a previous extraordinary meeting of the Comex, just after sweeping declarations concerning the icon of French football and sport Zinedine Zidane.

The judicial development of the beginning of the week, with the investigation entrusted to the brigade for the repression of delinquency against the person (BRDP) has darkened a little more the future of Noël Le Graët and his chances of regaining his prerogatives.

Strong pressure on Comex members

The boss of French football, for his part, denied the accusations, attacking, in a press release on Tuesday, January 17, organized leaks “through the press” and castigating a “administrative investigation, obviously in charge”for which he did not have “the opportunity to put forward his observations in defence”. He also denounced the “political interference and pressure” of the government.

Among the people targeted by Noël Le Graët, the Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. “Noël Le Graët is a litigant like any other. He is free to organize his defense as he wishes, but his attempts at diversion will not fool anyone. I will not let myself be blamed”she replied.

Both internally and outside the FFF, calls for the resignation of the president are increasing. Such a decision “would be an extremely positive signal sent to all the victims”had thus launched the Minister Delegate for Gender Equality, Isabelle Lonvis-Rome, Monday, January 16 on the Public Senate channel.

Last reprieve for the leader

If the former president of “En avant de Guingamp” does not resolve to hand over on his own, the room for maneuver of the Comex remains weak: the vast majority of its members come from the list that Noël Le Graët presented for his last re-election, in March 2021.

If it refuses to step aside, the great fear of elected officials is above all to see the federal assembly convened by a quarter of its members in order to dismiss the Comex as a whole. Conversely, a voluntary resignation would keep the body in place, allowing Vice-President Philippe Diallo, who has been acting since the retirement of Noël Le Graët, to remain in charge until the federal assembly scheduled for June. .

Jean-Michel Aulas, president of Olympique Lyonnais and influential member of Comex, judged in the columns of The TeamWednesday 18 January, that he was “worrying that not a day goes by without a new development taking place”. While judging, however, “premature to take a position” as long as “the report of the Ministry of Sports has not been released”.

This report must be sent to the FFF at the end of January. “The Comex will meet a few days later to focus entirely on the consequences of the audit, which takes us around mid-February”, explained to AFP Éric Borghini, member of the Comex and president of the federal commission of referees. The French football body will therefore have a fortnight to formulate written answers. A final reprieve for its 81-year-old leader.



Women’s refereeing in football: “The presumption of incompetence is still relevant”

A great first in the history of football. On the occasion of the last group match, decisive, between Costa Rica and Germany, Thursday, December 1 at 8 p.m., the refereeing will be directed, for the first time in a men’s World Cup, by a woman, Stéphanie Frappart. The Frenchwoman, voted best referee in the world in 2019 and 2020, had already been approached during the last Euro, but was then satisfied with a supporting role within a team of reserve referees.

Still blatant stereotypes

For Lucie Le Tiec, sociologist of sport, this appointment is to be welcomed but comes ” a bit late “. For the one who also officiated as a referee, it seems that the “presumption of incompetence is still relevant in the minds of many. We still often wonder if a woman, in a male environment, is really in her place or not.

“Beyond a trial of illegitimacy, it is an ability to be heard that is lacking”, judge for his part Olivier Chovaux, professor at the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education of Liévin and author of Whistling is not playing? A history of football referees (Ed. Atlande). “Football remains one of the last bastions of male virility. The world of referees is a world of men, he explains. The actors, in this case the footballers themselves, have no difficulty being led by women, but there remains a significant bureaucratic burden and a weight of generations which prevent us from going faster. »

As proof, Lucie Le Tiec recalls a historic episode in the delayed rise of women’s refereeing. “In 2006, Nelly Viennot (who was the first female assistant referee to operate in matches in Ligue 1, editor’s note) participated in the selections to be a referee at the World Cup in Germany.She was telling me recently that they had changed the physical test scale, just to make her fail. » The sociologist sees in this anecdote “a desire to preserve this male competition from the potential arrival of women”.

The FFF is delighted, France notes its delay

As soon as the announcement of the appointment of Stéphanie Frappart to referee the match between Costa Rica and Germany, the French Football Federation (FFF) was delighted with the historic nature of this decision. A joy to be put into perspective with the very relative efforts of France to promote female refereeing within the elite championships. “Behind the unique case of Stéphanie Frappart, there is no longer anyone, regrets Lucie Le Tiec. The trend in recent years has been to put all female referees in D1, the women’s championship, and not in Ligue 1. Olivier Chovaux abounds: “Stéphanie Frappart is the tree that hides the invisible forest. We do not see a linear evolution in this field. »

According to figures from the FFF, women referees are only a thousand, or only about 4% of the contingent of referees. The launch of Stéphanie Frappart, in Qatar, today represents the culmination of a professionalization plan for elite female referees, launched by the federation in January 2019. The latter provides “an increase in the human and material resources made available to female officials, a strengthening of their preparation, as well as an evolution of the compensation system, in order to provide them with the best conditions for the practice of arbitration”.

“We often hear the argument from the institution which consists in saying “we must look at the referees not according to their gender, but according to their skills”, recalls Lucie Le Tiec. But the actual numbers, for now, don’t lie. »



Rugby: the Blues still on the path to success

There are only four minutes left in a meeting that the Blues watch escape, badly in their legs and clumsy against Australians much more dashing than expected. Will they be the executioners of the XV of France again, these men from the antipodes who are the last to have defeated them in July 2021? The score on the Stade de France scoreboard is 29-25 in favor of the visitors.

So the stands launch into a Marseillaise out of the blue, summoning the energy of despair. And the Blues suddenly find the opening. A model jump pass from Matthieu Jalibert, a swaying dance from tightrope walker Damian Penaud, erasing with a sharp hook and a din slicing two opponents to flatten the winning try, and here are the Blues victorious on the wire ( 30-29). Moment of grace.

A group that adapts and reacts

This XV of France thus achieves an eleventh consecutive success, and beats an old record dating back to the 1930s, when the Blues of yesteryear, a time excluded from the Six Nations Tournament, had managed a series of ten against “small” teams. such as Italy and Germany. Suffice to say that today dominating all the nations encountered since the summer of 2021 is a performance of another scope.

Coach Fabien Galthié talks about ” pride “. Captain Antoine Dupont rather evokes the following: “It just makes us want to do more in the coming months. » The Blues inevitably turn their gaze towards this World Cup which is looming at home from September 8 to October 28, 2023. The final campaign which must lead to the Holy Grail has begun, and Fabien Galthié does not fail to mention the importance of garner as much confidence as possible before the deadline.

The short result against Australia is to be read in this light. Yes, the Blues proved to be borrowed for more than twenty minutes at the start of each period: fragile conquest, game launches at half mast, meager inspiration at the foot. It’s a lot. But they finally prevailed.

And the coach to praise his group’s ability to adapt and react. “The victory validates the choices we have made since the beginning of this mandatehe analyzed after the meeting. Both the choices of method, consistency, but also the choices on the players selected. »

The XV of France strategist underlines the youth of his troops, not so much on their age, which is slowly increasing (26.5 years on average for the group against the Wallabies), but on their common past in the jersey (23 selections on average only). “When I look at the others, I see that we are often, if not always, the team that has a collective experience below the best. So we are on a path…”

Bite everything from here to the Mondial

Everything is certainly not definitively stalled with these Blues who do not yet have comprehensive insurance. But the certainties are piling up, and it is not for nothing that Fabien Galthié evokes a XV “premium”, with ever more clearly identified executives. Hence the tenure of the pillar Cyril Baille or the opener Romain Ntamack, even if the two players are coming back from injuries and still seem to lack rhythm. The return of former captain Charles Ollivon, also elected man of the match, also contributes to this quest for consistency.

Even if the margin of progress is still real, the Blues in any case want to let go of nothing on the road to the World Cup. “It’s important to arrive at the World Cup thinking that we can beat everyoneinsisted Gaël Fickou, the most capped of the Blues (72 selections), at the dawn of this autumn tour. Without lacking in humility, our goal is to remain undefeated and take first place in the world rankings. » The XV of France is still second behind Ireland, and closely followed by South Africa.

And it is precisely the South Africans who are looming on November 12 in Marseille, before Japan on the 20th in Toulouse. If the Blues are up to their ambitions, it is another historic record that they can go for: that of the most consecutive victories (18) at international level, which New Zealand co-holds (between August 2015 and October 2016) and England (between October 2015 and March 2017). For that, it would be necessary to devour this autumn tour and another grand slam in the Six Nations Tournament in the spring of 2023. Then will come the World Cup which it would be a question of finally winning…



Champions League: money does not always bring happiness

At Paris Saint-Germain, it’s the same little music that we hear at the start of each season. “What if this year was the right one? », can be heard in the circle of football fans. Since the takeover of the club by Qatar in 2011, PSG has always been chasing its goal: to win the Champions League.

Since the end of August and the Parisian club’s good start to the season, its players and supporters have been hoping to win the European title that is so missing from their list, as the club begins its European campaign on Tuesday, September 6 against Juventus. from Turin (9 p.m.).

The “super rich” spend lavishly

In its quest for a “big-eared cup”, PSG has not skimped on resources over the past eleven years. As soon as the Qataris took power, big names were recruited at great expense: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani, David Luiz, Angel Di Maria, etc.

A recruitment policy that culminates in the 2017-2018 off-season, when the Parisian club offers itself the two most expensive players in the history of football: Neymar Jr (220 million euros) and Kylian Mbappé (180 million) . The arrival of Lionel Messi last year confirms that PSG continues to be ready to do anything to shine in Europe. In all, more than 1.5 billion euros spent since 2011. However, each year, the observation is similar: Paris Saint-Germain is not at the level of the biggest clubs in Europe.

The capital club is not the only one to ardently desire a first success in the Champions League. Since its takeover by Emirati investors in 2008, Manchester City has not been more successful than its Parisian competitor in getting their hands on the trophy. Like PSG in 2020, the English club could only glimpse it by qualifying for the final in 2011. Before losing to Chelsea.

Like the Parisians, the Mancunians have nevertheless put their hands in their pockets. Between 2010 and 2021, Manchester City spent more than 1.7 billion euros on the transfer market – a record. This summer, the club again offered the services of young Norwegian striker Erling Haaland for the sum of 75 million euros.

Other happier investors

If these two “new rich” failed in their European quest, other clubs managed to win the coveted trophy shortly after their takeover. This is the case, for example, of Chelsea. The London club, which had had some success in the 1990s, became the property of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich in 2003.

Under the impetus of its new owner, the Londoners acquire several major players such as the Ivorian striker Didier Drogba, the French midfielder Claude Makélélé or the defender Joe Cole. The recruitment of coach José Mourinho completes a flashy squad. A golden age then opens for the Blues, which chain successes on the national scene and will confirm nine years later by winning the Champions League. Chelsea will double down in 2021, a year before the club sold out due to the war in Ukraine.

Another historical English formation knew how to transform its takeover into a success. In 2010, the Liverpool club was on the brink, both financially and sportingly, stagnating in 18th place in the championship. It was then bought by the American investment fund New England Sports Ventures. As for Chelsea, success is not immediate. The club gradually climbed the slope before establishing itself as a major player in European football from 2015. And finally won the Champions League in 2019.



Tour of Spain: Spanish cycling is still waiting for the next generation

At the start of the last Tour de France in Copenhagen, at the time of the presentation of the teams, the Dane Jonas Vingegaard had largely won the applause meter. We bet that at the start of the Tour of Spain, this Friday August 19, on the podium where the entrants will parade, it is Alejandro Valverde who will be the most massively greeted. For completely different reasons: the future belongs to the first, while the second is the symbol of a lost past.

At 42, Alejandro Valverde takes advantage of this Vuelta to say goodbye to his audience. The meeting had already been set last year, but the 2018 world champion had fallen from the 7e step, and had to give up, broken collarbone. Such an exit was unthinkable for the Spanish giant. Hence this last lap this year. The winner of the event in 2009 obviously hopes for a last spark. But anyway, the Murcian, who holds the record for the number of rankings in the first ten places of a Grand Tour (20 times), “will be missed by Spanish cycling”, as 1980s rider Marino Lejarreta pointed out when honoring the champion at the San Sebastian Classic on July 30.

A ten-year-old fireworks display

Because Alejandro Valverde is the last representative of this golden generation which reigned over the peloton for a decade, from the mid-2000s. The good old days of the “club of five” at the top of the charts, with Valverde alongside, above the lot, Alberto Contador and his seven Grand Tours on the clock (the Tour de France 2007 and 2009, the Giro 2008 and 2015 and the Vuelta 2008, 2012 and 2014), but also Roberto Heras (four Vueltas won), Carlos Sastre and Oscar Pereiro, the last two having also won the Grande Boucle, respectively in 2008 and 2006. If we add over the same period the firecrackers lit by the Catalan Joaquim Rodriguez (14 Grand Tours stages removed) and the Oscar Freire (11 successes and the green jersey on the 2008 Tour), we understand the Spanish enthusiasm on the roadside then.

But now for a few years, the Spanish flag has been at half mast. In 2021, he has not been hoisted once in the Vuelta. A first since 1996. How to win, in fact, when the number of candidates is dwindling? On the last Tour de France, there were only nine Spanish participants. Such misery had not been pointed out since 1972! On the brave all the same at the start, hopes rested on Marc Soler, 28, winner of Paris-Nice 2018, which was not nothing, or Enric Mas (27), second in the Vuelta 2018 and 2021 all likewise. The ace. The first gave up, ill, during the 16e stage. The second before the 19th, caught up with the Covid-19.

A generation gap

Blame it on bad luck? Rather to a generational hole that is more and more a gaping abyss. It must be said that Spain looks gray with only one team out of the 18 that make up the international elite: Movistar, the formation of Valverde. Of its 29 members, only 17 Spaniards. Difficult, in these conditions, to bring the young shoots to the highest level.

This year, the organizers of the Vuelta have requested an exemption from the international federation (UCI) to enlarge the peloton (from 176 to 184 riders) and thus be able to invite three Spanish second division teams. Teams still quite young, like the Navarrese Kern Pharma, the youngest, dismissed only in 2021 and which discovers the Vuelta this year.

Expensive places

The Basque formation Euskaltel-Euskadi, disappeared in 2013 and rebuilt in 2018, is in full reconstruction. Only Burgos-BH can boast a little bottle and a reputation as a combative team, for the fifth time in the Tour of Spain and with a stage victory in 2019. But it too sacrifices to the ambient internationalization, with 14 Spaniards out of its 20 riders.

Opportunities are therefore rare and places are expensive. Literally. In July, the Madrid site El Confidencial created a mini-earthquake across the Pyrenees by revealing the practices in progress in many “small” teams, access routes to professionalism: making riders pay to integrate them. A drift already pointed out in the mid-2010s in Italy and which, to say the least, undermines the popular tradition of cycling. A tradition which, as elsewhere, is eroding. Unless a new Valverde hatches. The little Spanish queen is still waiting for her savior.


Nairo Quintana, absent at the last minute

On the eve of the launch of the Vuelta, the Colombian Nairo Quintana announced Thursday August 18 that he would not take the start of the race, of which he was one of the men expected with the three-time Slovenian title holder Primoz Roglic and the Belgian Remco Evenepoel. A day earlier, the climber from the French team Arkéa-Samsic was disqualified from the last Tour de France, in which he had taken 6th place. The International Cycling Union justified its decision by revealing that the 32-year-old rider had tested positive for tramadol, an analgesic banned in racing but which is not considered doping. Since this is a first offence, Nairo Quintana remains cleared to race competitively. The winner of the Vuelta 2016 can appeal within ten days.



Tour de France: Pogacar winner in the Pyrenees, Vingegaard still in yellow

Tadej Pogacar won the second stage of the Pyrenean triptych, in a scathing final on a 16% slope. In this third and final week of the Tour de France, the Slovenian from the UAE Emirates team beat the yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) by a few centimeters, after 130 lively kilometers, punctuated by three first category passes and 4 000 meters of elevation.

The winner of the previous edition of the “big loop” won his third stage on this Tour, despite a battered team where there are only three survivors left among his eight teammates at the start. It was one of them, Brandon Mcnulty, who won third place after supporting him against Jonas Vingegaard on the final climb.

An unchanged top 5

Difficult to summarize this stage during which some of the first breakaways ended up among the last to arrive. Contrary to appearances however, the Top 5 remains unchanged since Nairo Quintana and David Gaudu retain their 4th and 5th places, behind Geraint Thomas.

Despite weaknesses and thanks to a burst of pride, Romain Bardet managed to catch up with some of the delay accumulated the day before, when he had tumbled from 4th to 9th place. After repeated attacks at the start of the stage and a few kilometers covered at the front of the race, he joined the carnage of riders, decimated by the drop, overtaken by the first two in the classification. He did not give up, however, finishing fifth in the stage, just behind Geraint Thomas, and climbing to 6th place in the standings.

David Gaudu also found himself in difficulty but retained his position, in particular thanks to the help of his teammates Valentin Madouas and Thibaut Pinot. If the latter was first driving for a stage victory, he finally waited for his leader after being dropped and left behind by the leading group.

In this leading group, a two-on-one fight was played out in the last twenty kilometers, Tadej Pogacar and his UAE Emirates team-mate trying to steal the yellow jersey from a Jonas Vingegaard clinging to their wheels. The Slovenian did try to attack it two hundred meters from the top of the third pass, without success. He will have to “settle” for a stage victory.

Green and comfort polka dot jerseys

By taking second place in the intermediate sprint, Wout van Aert is practically guaranteed to keep his green jersey as best sprinter. There are only 220 points left to distribute by the time they arrive in Paris and the Belgian is 220 points ahead of the second in the standings, Jasper Philipsen.

As for the polka dot jersey, Giulio Ciccone (Trek) took second place in the provisional classification, passing Simon Geshke (victim of a technical incident) at La Hourquette. But the Italian is still 24 points behind Simon Geschke (Cofidis), who retains his first place in the Grand Prix de la montagne for the time being.



Football clubs still make billionaires dream

After the Russians, the emirs of the Gulf, the Chinese, make way for the Americans. In recent months, investment funds have multiplied the takeovers of football clubs in Europe. In Great Britain, Chelsea has just been taken over by a consortium led by businessman Todd Boehly, already co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. He will pay 3 billion euros to take over the shares of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and has promised to inject an additional 2 billion into the London club. It is the largest transaction ever made in a team sport.

The return on investment is not obvious, but by buying out a team, a fund gains notoriety which can enable it to attract other investors and therefore increase its financial standing”, analyzes Jean-François Brocard, lecturer at the Center for Sports Law and Economics. Clearly, it would be a kind of marketing expense. The prospect of carrying out a real estate project on the land belonging to the stadium and the development of derivative products can also whet the appetite of a fund.

Toulouse FC and Red Star under American control

In Italy, AC Milan, the former club of Silvio Berlusconi, is also changing hands. Owned by Elliott Management since 2018, it was bought in early June by another American fund, RedBird Capital, for 1.2 billion euros, which owns shares in baseball in the United States and in the club of Liverpool. In the summer of 2020, he also became the main shareholder of Toulouse FC, which will return to Ligue 1.

Several American funds are also in discussion with Olympique Lyonnais to take a stake. At the beginning of May, 777 Partners based in Miami, took over the Red Star, the club of Saint-Ouen, in the Paris suburbs. He already owns Genoa, Italy, Standard de Liège in Belgium, part of Spanish club FC Sevilla, as well as Brazilian Vasco de Gama.

Financialization is accelerating

The period is conducive to this frenzy of acquisitions. There is money to invest and clubs to sell, hard hit by the Covid crisis and in need of fresh money.

We are taking a further step in the financialization of football, with the risk that these new investors seek to limit the sporting hazard, by pushing for the creation of closed Leagues, without ups and downs, as in the United States “, emphasizes Jean-François Brocard. A similar project, called “Super League”, imagined by twelve football clubs (six English, three Spanish and three Italian) is still pending.



Incidents at the Stade de France: questions still pending

While the controversy over the management of the Champions League final on Saturday does not weaken, the senators will audition, this Wednesday 1stJune, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and his sports colleague, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. The causes of these incidents, such as the attacks that took place before and after the match, continue to raise questions, while the opposition demands clarity on responsibilities.

► Is the figure of 40,000 supporters without tickets or with counterfeit tickets correct?

Did Gérald Darmanin lie when he mentioned “30,000 to 40,000 English supporters without tickets or with falsified tickets” and an “massive, industrial and organized fraud” ? A phenomenon on a scale never observed before, which would be the “root evil” incidents.

→ REREAD. Champions League: chaos around the Stade de France

The first occurrence of this number is in a report from the prefect of police Didier Lallement to the minister, on May 29. Asked by The cross Tuesday on the origin of this information, the police headquarters refers to the Ministry of the Interior, which did not respond. On the evening of the match, Gérald Darmanin spoke on Twitter about “thousands” supporters without tickets or with fake tickets, after a press release from UEFA which mentioned “thousands” holders of falsified tickets (according to AFP, the FFF and UEFA would have estimated 2,800 “scanned fake tickets”).

→ EDITORIAL. Stade de France incidents: speed and precipitation

Following an interministerial meeting on Monday, the Minister of the Interior takes up the number of the police headquarters. “These are the public transport figures, that’s also how we manage to document it, independently of CCTV images and checks.indicated Gérald Darmanin. There were 40,000 more people on the RER D and line 13”. Which would therefore have been added to the 22,000 Britons with valid tickets, causing congestion.

However, the RATP indicates to The cross that there was no“special crowd” that night. Metro line 13 transported 26,000 passengers towards Saint-Denis, RER D 37,000 and RER B only 6,200 (disturbed by a strike whose success the unions hailed, calling for a restart for the France- Denmark Friday June 3). That is nearly 70,000 people to the stadium and the Spaniards fan-zone, enclosures welcoming a total of 80,000 people. The SNCF confirms the figures relating to the two RERs. “Everything went well that evening, there is nothing special to report,” she specifies.

Many people present also question the official version. “The figure is completely fancifulsweeps Pierre Barthélémy, lawyer for supporters, present as an observer for the association Football Supporters Europe (FSE). Very few people with fake tickets were blocked, and there was never a reflux of 30,000 to 40,000 people to the RER. It would have been colossal. This number may correspond to that of the British who were in the Place de la Nation fan-zone. » The Bobigny prosecution opened an investigation into the counterfeit notes on Monday.

► What do we know about attacks before and after the match?

For three days, the Spanish and English press have been reporting a large number of testimonies on the attacks on supporters that took place before and especially after the final. “Never go to see a match in Paris”, writes on Twitter Martin Varsavsky, a business leader who has returned to Madrid “horrified”.

All the stories refer to “youth gangs” numerous and “organized”, “hunting” fans to steal mobile phones, wallets, bags or stadium tickets. “When I left the stadium to go to the metro, I was really scared. There were a lot of young people, maybe 300, who all came running. They had knives and box cutters,” tell to The cross Alvaro, Real Madrid supporter. VSsome started fights while others took advantage of it to steal what they could. It was apocalyptic.” adds Bertrand, resident of Saint-Denis.

Testimonies confirmed by police unionists. “Colleagues on site, accustomed to matches at the Stade de France, told me that they had never seen anything like it”, indicates Ludovic Bonnet, deputy departmental secretary Unit SGP Police 93. “We were faced with sometimes very young offenders, who acted a few meters from the police”, adds Grégory Goupil, Ile-de-France deputy national secretary for the Alliance union. Many spectators attacked denounce the very insufficient presence of the police or their passivity. “Colleagues did what they could. But it’s true that there were so many attacks that they were overwhelmed,” recognizes a trade unionist.

→ ANALYSIS. Champions League in Paris: ominous incidents before the Olympics?

From these testimonies alone, it is difficult to precisely establish the profile of the aggressors. “There were young people from the housing estates of Saint-Denis but also people in an irregular situation from other areas of Île-de-France, as well as unaccompanied minors”, says Ludovic Bonnet. After the match, 48 people were taken into custody and, for the vast majority of them, came out free after a few hours. “Either because of procedural irregularities, or because the facts were not established or insufficiently characterized”, we explain to the Bobigny prosecutor’s office.

“Among those taken into custody, there were no English or Spanish supporters. Nor any person who used counterfeit banknotes,” add to the parquet floor. This Tuesday, six people, prosecuted for thefts in meetings or with violence, were to be tried in immediate appearance.

► What political consequences?

The opposition intends to shine the spotlight on the political responsibility for this disaster, while the Senate hears the Minister of the Interior and his sports colleague this Wednesday. “In the absence of a question and answer session to the government, it was important to be able to question them”, explains the centrist senator Laurent Lafon, president of the commission of cultural affairs in charge of sports, who considers the first elements of explanation insufficient.

Do we need a commission of inquiry, as some elected officials demand? “It’s not our orientation”, responds the senator from Val-de-Marne, recalling that Parliament cannot conduct such an investigation in parallel with a legal procedure. “We have to put things straighthowever, insists Philippe Bas, senator LR and member of the law commission. The refusal to pose the problems and see reality in the face is never constructive. »

Although the opposition has taken up the subject, many majority MPs are still ready to defend the government, blaming the RATP strike, ticketing problems or even supporters “radicalized”. “You cannot ask the police to recover a situation when the problems have accumulated upstream”advances the deputy of Seine-et-Marne Jean-Michel Fauvergue, who also believes that the use ” absolutely necessary tear gas on supporters “probably saved lives”.

But even within the majority, the case is embarrassing. LREM deputy Sacha Houlié, supporter lawyer, deplores problems that do not date from last Saturday. “Throughout the season, the national division for the fight against hooliganism has not worked, the movement of supporters has been prohibited, the prefectures no longer consult the clubs. It can’t work well. » The member for Vienne denounces above all a lack of ” political will “. “ If we accept the commonplace that football fans are unmanageable – which I totally refute – then we give up organizing matches… ”


Concern before the Olympics

Saturday’s incidents come on the eve of two major international events in France: the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.

The organizers of the Olympic Games are faced with a colossal challenge: welcoming 600,000 spectators (seven times the Stade de France) on the banks of the Seine in Paris for an outdoor opening ceremony. “We will be ready” in two years, assured Tuesday the president of the Organizing Committee of the Games, Tony Estanguet.

The new Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, on Monday ordered an analysis report which must be given to her within ten days, calling for “strengthen the management of major events”.



England still largely dominate women’s rugby

There was, however, this beautiful moment of euphoria. This test planted with authority from the fourth minute, and the Bleues opened the scoring by affirming their ambition of the day: to win in Bayonne, Saturday April 30, their sixth grand slam in the Six Nations Tournament, the first since 2018. And above all to beat these English women posting nine consecutive victories against the XV of France.

→ ANALYSIS. Rugby: the women’s XV of France comes out of the shadows

But the joy was short-lived. Because the steamroller of the XV of the Rose started, flattening all the hopes, the desires to do well. Strong in their power and also taking advantage of the weaknesses of the Blues in conquest, the English confiscated the leather to accompany it behind the goal line. Three attempts thus chained together, an inexorable wave, sweeping away everything in its path. A minimalist but terribly effective rugby. And against which the Blues have not found a solution.

The excellence of an English championship renovated in 2017

“The fact of the game is our lack of balls”, could comment Thomas Darracq, the sports manager of the France team. In fact, too often penalized or countered on the keys (8 ball losses, a huge waste), the Blue could hardly express themselves. Hence the “frustration” what Annick Hayraud mentioned after the defeat, emphasizing: “We will have to find solutions. » It is therefore the English who have enriched their record, offering themselves their tenth grand slam in the Six Nations Tournament, and their 19th consecutive victory in the competition.

However, this unchallenged domination owes nothing to chance. England has been betting big on the development of women’s rugby since 2017. In September of that year, the Rugby Football Union (RFU, the English rugby federation) professionalized the national championship of its players, renamed “Premier 15s”. The competition goes from eight to ten teams, franchises mostly from the women’s sections of the big clubs (Saracens, Harlequins, Wasps, etc.). The authority devotes nearly 3 million euros over three years to its championship, and thus hopes to cause a boom in female licenses in clubs. The objective is to reach 50,000 licensees in 2021.

The Covid-19 pandemic, however, thwarts this momentum for a time. In 2020, the championship loses its official sponsor (a famous brand of crisps), and the budget is revised downwards. But the RFU does not spare its efforts so that the adaptation is only cyclical. A new partner, the insurance giant Allianz, is on board for the following season, and the RFU takes the opportunity to increase the salary cap that clubs can devote to women’s salaries this year (from €70,000 to €140,000).

A doubling of licensees

The sum can obviously make you smile in comparison with the 6 million euros available to the male Premiership clubs. But it testifies to the desire for progress of a women’s championship whose players are now semi-professional, combining rugby and part-time work (half the week). A situation that does not concern 28 of the players of the national team, benefiting from special contracts allowing them to devote themselves 100% to rugby.

The Premier 15s suddenly displays quality matches, which is starting to interest broadcasters. The BBC broadcasts one match a day on its digital platform, and pay-TV BT Sport broadcasts the semi-finals and the final of the championship (mid-May). So many assets that are attracting more and more young English women. The RFU did not reach its objective of 50,000 licensees, but it nevertheless doubled its workforce to 40,000 licensees (26,000 in France).

So of course, the picture is not yet idyllic with most clubs “lose money again”, recently acknowledged Sue Day, the financial director of the RFU. Emphasizing that it was about betting on “long-term development”, with the 2025 Women’s World Cup in sight, which England should host. Can the XV of the Rose thus maintain its lead over the other nations? Next element of response to the 2022 World Cup (from October 8 to November 12 in New Zealand), where France will find England in its pool (with South Africa and Fiji). Les Bleues know that there is still a lot of work to compete.


The difficult road to professionalism

If France can at least resist the English machine, this 2022 Tournament has once again revealed how much other nations are struggling to exist. The English have crushed Scotland (57-5), Italy (74-0), Wales (58-5) and Ireland (69-0). In these countries, the professional structure of women’s rugby remains at half mast. In December 2021, around 60 current and former Irish players wrote to the government asking “significant change”. The Italians also remain 100% amateurs, when around thirty Scottish players benefit from assistance, but very partial. Only Wales are starting to follow the path set by France and England by professionalizing twelve of their players full-time this year, but without guarantee for next season.