A few months ago, it was after an investigation by So Foot that the "Le Graët affair" was born within the FFF. It is impossible to know if this new article will have similar consequences, but the specialized magazine publishes this Thursday a long-term investigation around the testimony of Nicolas Pottier, former international arbitrator who chose to speak publicly to denounce the discriminations and abuses that, according to him, plague French arbitration.
Until a year ago, Nicolas Pottier was unknown to the general public. But in May 2022, in response to the refusal of Idrissa Gueye's Parisian to participate in the national day of struggle against homophobia, the president of the district of Mayenne had chosen to "come out". Today, he returns to the charge and believes that the French arbitration bodies suffer from a problem with homosexuality, between "positive discrimination", favoritism and well-kept secrets.
Half of the referees in L1 and L2 are homosexual, claims Pottier
The story he tells is that of a man with a future all mapped out, an assistant prodigy who will be, he says, "victim of a machination". On 14 February, he filed a complaint for moral and sexual harassment in the private and professional sphere, as well as for rape against X. We will not know much more about the acts of harassment. On the other hand, he says he has serious suspicions of poisoning him one evening in 2009 in a hotel room. An episode that he believes to have long repressed and that would have resurfaced last January. He now remembers being in his bed with a "former executive of the FFF". Facts that the person concerned denies en bloc.
In this case, Nicolas Pottier draws a large number of arrows, without the Federation wishing at any time to respond. In particular, he claims that about half of the referees in L1 and L2 are homosexual. "Nearly 40%," says another arbitrator, who wishes to remain anonymous, like almost all the sources interviewed in this article. Another man in black even says that there is, within the authorities, "a system of positive discrimination (...) which favours young gay referees to the detriment of others, he asks. But where the system really shines by its perversity is that these gentlemen do not assume it at all." "The fact that I come out as gay quickly became a problem in the arbitration community. I was an anomaly in the system."
Borghini personally targeted
These accusations echo the case of Daniel G., named after the head of the Ile-de-France referees dismissed in the summer of 2022 because he promised good grades in exchange for sexual messages. A case for which the League is accused of having at least lacked responsiveness.
Eric Borghini, member of the Executive Committee, President of the Federal Commission of Referees and President of the Mediterranean League, is personally targeted. Pottier and others accused him of showing favouritism in certain cases. Contacted by Le Parisien, he believes he is the victim of a political attack and reserves the choice to go to court.
Possible reactions from the FFF, and in particular from interim president Philippe Diallo, will be watched. The latter must be confirmed in his post this Saturday in Paris, during a Federal Assembly, the first since the departure of Noël Le Graët. The case of Nicolas Pottier, appointed last summer federal coordinator of amateur refereeing at the FFF, will inevitably cause a cause behind the scenes, while the publication of the investigation was eagerly awaited.
"I feel I have to speak out, on behalf of all the silent victims of the world of sport who are crushed by an opaque, perverse and outdated system, which suffers from dictatorial methods, an archaic organization and old ideas," Pottier told So Foot. For me, it's too late, but I want to protect the youngest and most fragile, and to free speech, showing them that fear must change sides. »