Rugby World Cup 2023: favoritism, misappropriation of public funds … The alarming situation in the financing of the World Cup

The team revealed on Tuesday an investigation into the mismanagement of the 2023 Rugby World Cup budget, with the former management of Claude Atcher being targeted, suspected of favoritism and misappropriation of public funds.

The World Cup is fast approaching. On September 8, the World Championship will begin in France between the XV team of France and the “All Blacks” in the “Stade de France”. An event especially anticipated by fans of the oval ball and especially by Blues fans who hope to see their patrons offer themselves the first star on the crest of a rooster.

The team investigated the financing of the 2023 World Cup and it was successful.

In 2017, in the columns of Figaro, Claude Atcher said that France could earn up to 200 million euros by hosting the Rugby World Cup. Five years later, the situation had already changed. During the GIP’s board of directors, this amount would be completely adjusted downwards to 95 million euros.

For the public, it’s an even lower number: 68 million. Always with the same ambition: to organize the most profitable World Cup in history. How? Thanks to the attractive ticket office and generous sponsors.

Costs cut by former management and Claude Atcher

The General Financial Inspectorate, for its part, wants to be more cautious: “Given the current context of the GIP, the ambition for the financial results of the World Cup is not a priority. Only the optimal conditions of the tournament and the proper execution of the operations carried out within the framework of the World Cup, even if this is achieved means mobilizing a part of the profits made to guarantee their attainment. The only objective to be preserved in relation to the non-controlling liabilities of the former managing director (Claude Atcher) is the reasonable result provided by the low assumptions of the interim profit and loss statement of GIP”.

How to explain such a way? Costs were estimated as low as 28 million euros. A blow for a World Cup that will bring in only 40 million euros, pending the results of an independent financial audit, according to daily sports data still by the National Financial Prosecutor (PNF).

The same PNF, which was in charge of the initial investigation, took over the gendarmes of the Paris investigation unit to search the premises of France 2023 in early November. Claude Atcher and former management will be on the job for a number of breaches in the management of the Public Interest Group. . This would cause a loss of several million euros. Like Campus 2023 (a training center that is supposed to offer 2000 jobs to youth and is still not satisfactory).

“The priority is to ensure the security of the organization”

The new management, questioned by L’Equipe, was more confident: “The priority is to ensure the organization of the tournament by mobilizing the resources necessary to hold the event with the highest quality standards. This will be presented at the next meeting. The Board of Directors on February 2, all of the Organizing Committee approved the updated budget for the event that unites its perimeters. This budget will allow to achieve a positive result at the level of the best World Cups. It will be redistributed to French rugby.”

Claude Atcher’s lawyers maintain that their clients are unaware of all these difficulties and place the blame on the firm ESS and the Directors of Financial Affairs (DAF) of the Campus and GIP, who are responsible for approving and verifying the status of salary funds or contributions. and social security payments. France 2023 can rely on sponsorship deals and ticket-related revenue to offset reduced security and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) costs.

Suspicion of favoritism and embezzlement

The IGF also found traces of gifts given or offered to GIP leaders, including Claude Atcher. Information denied by the former boss of the 2023 World Cup. The PNF will also investigate a number of contracts awarded and in favor of the GIP. Like a deal with Be on coaching, none other than Claude Atcher’s son’s company. Inspectors are also concerned about the costs of providing the services of a VTC driver. Again, what is wrong is that no tender was announced.

The IGF, which handled the finances of the GIP, would find the sum used to pay for the train travel of several staff members who went to attend the funeral of Claude Atcher’s father. Claude Atcher, through his lawyers, also denied this transaction.

According to information from L’Equipe, the National Financial Prosecutor may prefer the qualification of “embezzlement of public funds and philanthropy” instead of corruption (which was initially considered when the investigation was launched). Many gray areas, uncertainties surround the semi-public and semi-private institution: GIP.

If the ethics committee was excited a few months ago, the new administration wants to be more measured and confident, trying to open glimmers of hope. In the spring of next year, a financial and accounting audit mission will be essential “to ensure that all accounting and financial transactions of the subjects of the organizing committee are in compliance with their obligations and commitments.”

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