Tuesday, January 24, the current president of the FFR Bernard Laporte was placed in police custody in a case of money laundering of aggravated tax fraud. Already engaged in a procedure last September, this file is completely different as explained by the sports daily. For this new case which is shaking up French rugby, a preliminary investigation was opened in August 2020 and entrusted to the Service d’Enquêtes Judiciaux des Finances (SEJF).
During his police custody, Bernard Laporte was accompanied by his tax adviser who communicated to AFP on Tuesday January 24 that the case would relate to “a donation granted more than 12 years ago to a former rugby player friend and associate of Bernard Laporte, donation which would not have been regularly declared to the tax authorities”. “It is established that Bernard Laporte has not received any sum and is only involved as a partner”, he added, stressing that neither the FFR nor rugby in general could be “impacted by this private folder”. So far, no charges have been filed.
As France enters a very important Rugby World Cup year, Bernard Laporte had already had to step back and abandon all the prerogatives of a president of the FFR under pressure from the Ministry of Sports and the committee of ethics after his conviction on December 13 for corruption, influence peddling, illegal taking of interests for offenses committed in the exercise of his functions. A referendum to appoint Patrick Buisson as delegate president is currently underway.
Bernard Laporte already sentenced in December 2022
As indicated above, this new case is quite distinct from the first. If he appealed the decision (a suspensive appeal), Bernard Laporte was given a two-year suspended prison sentence, a fine of 75,000 euros and a two-year ban on exercising any function related to rugby. , for passive corruption, influence peddling, illegal taking of interests, concealment of misuse of corporate assets and misuse of corporate assets in December 2022.
In the heart of this file, the relations between Bernard Laporte and Mohed Altrad, owner and president of the club of Montpellier. The president of the FFR was suspected of having received an interest with an image contract of 180,000 euros made with the Altrad group, a contract which was never executed, likely to compromise his impartiality or his independence in operations related to Mohed Altrad as the sponsorship of the jersey of the XV of France. In exchange, Bernard Laporte had to give several conferences that he never did. The sponsorship of the Blues jersey was particularly in the sights of the investigators since two sponsorship contracts for the Blues jersey with the Altrad group as main partner were signed without a call for tenders being made.
Bernard Laporte was born in Rodez, in the Aveyron, on July 1, 1964. Trained in Gaillac, where he began as a professional player in 1981 as a scrum half, he left the Tarn in 1984 to join Bordeaux Bègles. A year later, he remains in a coma for a week after a serious car accident. This will not prevent him from winning the title of champion of France in 1991, when he should have stopped playing rugby after his accident. He then put an end to his playing career in 1993.
After earning his spurs as a coach at the Stade Bordelais, he took charge of the Stade Français in 1995, then in the third division, under the presidency of Max Guazzini. It is an immediate success. After two promotions in two years under the orders of Bernard Laporte, Stade Français was crowned champion of France at the end of the 1997-1998 season in its first season in the first division of French rugby. The France team then opened its doors to him and he became the coach of the Blues after the 1999 World Cup.
He won the Six Nations Tournament four times but failed twice at the foot of the podium, during the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, before leaving his post after the failure of the World Cup in France. Bernard Laporte spends a moment away from the lawns. Appointed as Secretary of State in charge of Sports by Nicolas Sarkozy, he will remain in this position for more than a year and a half. He returned to the field in December 2011, when he replaced Philippe Saint-André at the head of Toulon. Carried by the financial surface of Mourad Boudjellal, the RCT goes on with the titles. The Aveyron coach brought back the Bouclier de Brennus and the European Cup to the Var before leaving his post at the end of the 2015-2016 season.
During his last season, he campaigned for the presidency of the FFR. He won the election and became president of the FFR in December 2016. Despite several cases (Altrad) and the brutal dismissal of Guy Novès in 2017 for “serious misconduct”, Bernard Laporte was narrowly re-elected to this post of president in 2020 At the same time, the native of Gaillac has invested in several sectors and occasionally intervenes in the media, even if he no longer has programs as has been the case in the past, especially on RMC.
Bernard Laporte has a very extensive track record, after several decades spent on the rugby pitch. As a player, he was champion of France with Bordeaux Bègles (1991). As a coach, he won the Bouclier de Brennus with the Stade Français (1998) but also with the RCT (2014), with whom he won the European Cup three years in a row (2013, 2014 and 2015). As coach of the France team, he won the Six Nations tournament four times (2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007).
Bernard Laporte was one of the most emblematic coaches of the France team, with his eight years at the head of the Blues, from 1999 to 2007. He remodeled the XV of France, which, during his two mandates, will have played 98 games with a record of 62 wins against 34 losses and 2 draws. But his record remains undeniably tarnished by two failures in the World Cup, whether in 2003 and especially in 2007, despite this prestigious victory against the All Blacks in the quarter-finals.
Bernard Laporte was elected to the presidency of the French Rugby Federation in December 2016, after the victory of his list in particular against that of the former president, Pierre Camou. Since his appointment, he has notably obtained the award of the 2023 World Cup to France but remains criticized for a case of alleged favoritism for the benefit of the Montpellier club and its president Mohed Altrad, who has become the main sponsor of the Blues. The former scrum-half, however, was narrowly re-elected to his post in the 2020 federal election.
Former French rugby international, Guy Laporte is not related to Bernard Laporte. Guy Laporte, who died of a heart attack at the start of 2022, played with the Blues in the mid-1980s as an opening half and also held several positions at the French Rugby Federation in the 1990s, out of the fields.