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Philippe Spanghero: "Bernard Laporte's position is untenable"


INTERVIEW – The manager of the Team One agency, a communication strategy consulting group for sports players, talks about the situation of the president of the FFR, convicted at first instance by the Paris Court.

Le Figaro: What is, in terms of image for rugby, the impact of the conviction of Bernard Laporte?

Philippe Spanghero:

Today, there is such a gap between what we live sportingly, the affection of the general public for the XV of France, and what people think of the governance of the Federation, that it does not can't work.

I heard Mourad Boudjellal say that the only thing people are interested in is seeing the France team win.

I do not agree.

What interests them is to have a French team of which they are proud AND a clean sport.

In addition, these issues of integrity and sanitation of public life are in tune with the times.

One cannot function without the other.

How much does this case weigh?

The situation could not be more prejudicial.

The Football World Cup is almost over, we will quickly switch to the rugby one.

There is everything to ensure that communication is exceptional with a winning French team, the best player in the world in your ranks 

(Antoine Dupont, editor's note)

, others who are among the best in their position... And you have this case which completely cannibalizes all this positive communication.

So it can't work.

And it must not become a soap opera.

You have to get out of it very quickly or risk greatly harming the rise of the event itself.

Without forgetting also the stakes in terms of licensees.

We know that a World Cup at home is conducive to recruitment.

“The Bernard Laporte subject weighs in the balance of the negotiations.

Because the image of rugby is global”

What are the consequences for the partners and sponsors of the FFR?

The economic dimension and sponsorship of the Federation was very difficult before obtaining the World Cup.

Most of the historical partners then asked themselves the question of staying.

The prospect of this event then convinced them not to leave.

They all renegotiated at that time until 2024. Which means the renegotiations for the post-2023 World Cup have started.

Given the amounts involved, these are major and strategic partnerships.

The sporting dimension obviously attracts them – we found a successful French team in sport and in terms of image – but, at the same time, the subject of Bernard Laporte weighs in the balance of the negotiations.

Because the image of rugby is global.

Read alsoRugby: International Federation, World Cup 2023, All Blacks, Western Force… The international consequences of the Laporte-Altrad affair

Can they push him to leave?

I do not know.

But everyone will ask the question.

How will the FFR quickly get out of the impasse?

They need to be reassured that there will be no image impact on their partnership.

It's also complicated to hope to find new partners in the current situation… The Federation was in poor financial condition and losing momentum on the part of the licensees.

We came back to a positive situation with this World Cup which made it possible to secure the sponsors, served in addition by exceptional sporting results.

There is an alignment of the planets and there, by his irrational position of wanting to fight against everyone, Bernard Laporte threatens him.

It's really damaging.

Internationally, the conviction of Bernard Laporte was very badly experienced.

International reactions are virulent for a simple reason: the notions of presumption of innocence and suspension by appeal do not exist in Anglo-Saxon countries.

For them, he is doomed.

And World Rugby, unlike the FFR, is a commercial company.

In its statutes, it is stipulated that an elected member condemned must resign, under penalty of exclusion.

Bernard Laporte therefore anticipated the communication from World Rugby.

But he does not come out voluntarily, contrary to what he claimed...

"I do not see how a federation president can go to the showdown with his supervisory ministry and his government"

Sports Minister

Amélie Oudéa-Castéra called on him to resign


Is she in her role?

This position is politically binding.

The 2023 World Cup is an event that crystallizes everything, with a very strong geopolitical dimension concerning the influence of France.

Even more, vis-à-vis the general public, Emmanuel Macron can badly open the World Cup alongside Bernard Laporte.

It's too delicate.

The minister's position is Macron's position because never has a sports minister been so close to the President of the Republic.

She is a promotion friend who benefits from a large scope of action.

When she comes out of the woodwork so firmly, it's a decision that comes from above.

But the minister cannot force him to resign.

Therefore, how to weigh on the decision of Bernard Laporte?

There are levers.

The first would jeopardize all of French rugby.

It would consist in removing from the FFR its supervision of the state.

Which would cut rugby off from part of its income just before a World Cup organized in France... There are above all indirect levers.

We were also waiting for the position of the League.

She is extremely firm (

she is calling for new elections, editor's note


And she weighs.

Read alsoRugby: the League calls for new elections to the FFR after the conviction of Laporte

Is Bernard Laporte's position to remain in office tenable?

In my opinion, it is untenable.

I don't see how a president of a federation can go to the showdown with his supervisory ministry and his government as an event as strong as the World Cup in France approaches.

If he hangs on, it's like taking all of French rugby hostage, putting it in trouble.

Bernard Laporte built his speech by emphasizing his love of rugby.

But, today, his position is doing more harm than good to his sport.

If he takes into account the general interest, he cannot stay.

The longer he hangs on, the more detrimental the situation will become?

We don't have much time.

We have to get out of this situation very quickly.

Every day counts.

The current rot serves no one.

Sponsor com plans are in place.

They are waiting for the end of the Football World Cup and then the holidays to press the button and launch the campaigns.

However, they will not be able to fully promote this event by being indirectly associated with business.

So either Bernard Laporte withdraws very quickly and the point of tension disappears;

or he hangs on and business, in the background, will impact the event to the end.

"All the benefit of this World Cup at home is almost canceled by what we are going through at the moment"

Can some of his supporters force him to resign by rallying with the opposition and the representatives of the League to bring about the resignation of the steering committee and, consequently, new elections?

It is a possible scenario.

The elect begin to understand that they all have an individual responsibility.

If Bernard Laporte does not want to come to his senses, those around him and who have influence will also bear the responsibility.

Because, today, French rugby is at an impasse.

All the benefit of this World Cup at home is almost canceled because we live in this moment!

If Bernard Laporte resigns, can he run again?

Given the posture he displays, presumed innocent, he can only regain his legitimacy through this.

By being re-elected.

So why not.

He built his speech on democracy, repeating that the Camou era was North Korea.

So he can't hold on like this, in this hopeless situation.

Will he finally listen to reason?

I want to say yes.

He has a real love for rugby.

This is what should guide it, the general interest, because the stakes are too high... We repeat that it feeds on the fight.

But there, it is not Bernard Laporte against X and Y. He is not only damaging his image, but that of all French rugby.

In the collective unconscious, rugby remains a particular sport in terms of values.

By staying, he is shooting down the beautiful image of rugby and killing that of the upcoming World Cup.

Source: lefigaro

All sports articles on 2022-12-16

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