In just under eight months, the next Men's Rugby World Cup will open (September 8-October 28).
The second edition organized on French soil in sixteen years and perhaps, finally, the hour of glory for the XV of France.
But until then, it is devilishly difficult to find grounds for enthusiasm.
The organization of this event is awash in embarrassing revelations and alarming reports for the organizers.
As a reminder, at the beginning of October, a preliminary investigation was opened by the National Financial Prosecutor's Office for alleged offenses of favouritism, influence peddling and corruption.
The PNF had taken this decision after consulting the conclusions of the work carried out jointly by the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF) and the General Inspectorate for Education, Sport and Research (IGESR).
This mission had been requested by the ministry after the publication of an initial investigation by the newspaper L'Équipe.
"Only (counts) the delivery of the tournament in optimal conditions"
This Wednesday, the sports daily disclosed new elements from these investigations.
The governance of Claude Atcher, former president of the organizing committee (GIP) and dismissed in October due to “alarming managerial practices”, is clearly targeted there.
In summary, civil servants report poor budget management and suspicions of favoritism and embezzlement of public funds.
First element highlighted, the substantial drop in promises of profits at the end of the tournament.
These have literally melted.
From 200 million euros announced in 2017, today we go to about five times less (40 million) according to the calculations of the daily.
“Given the current context of the GIP, the mission considers that the ambition for the financial results of the World Cup is not a priority.
Only (counts) the delivery of the tournament in optimal conditions and the proper completion of the operations undertaken within the framework of the World Cup, even if it means mobilizing part of the profits made to guarantee its completion, ”indicates the IGF.
“The only objective to preserve with regard to the uncontrolled commitments of the former managing director (Claude Atcher) is that of a reasonable result, of the order of that guaranteed by the low assumptions of the provisional income statement of the GIP.
28 million euros would thus have been forgotten.
An independent financial audit has been requested by the National Financial Prosecutor's Office (PNF).
A book on the work of Claude Atcher which questions
The Team also identifies several facts likely to be of interest to justice at the criminal level: the writing of a book honoring the work of Claude Atcher - the latter's entourage speaks of "heritage".
The writing of this book was billed 12,000 euros to a young author.
Suspicions of favoritism in the awarding of public contracts are also being investigated.
These concern rides in VTC put on the note of the Public Interest Group France 2023. The charge of “corruption” would however be abandoned by the PNF.
It should be noted that it is within the framework of this investigation that irregularities in the ticket office were also brought to light.
Information revealed in early January by Le Parisien.