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Police raid French rugby World Cup HQ as legal probe opened

Organisers of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France said police raided their offices Wednesday as part of a legal probe into the management of the competition under former chief executive Claude Atcher.

Atcher was sacked last month after an internal investigation reported “alarming managerial practices” amid allegations of bullying and harassment from staff.

The national financial crimes prosecutor’s office confirmed Wednesday for the first time that it had opened an investigation into possible favouritism, corruption and influence-peddling.

The probe followed a referral from auditors at the finance and sports ministries, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement that confirmed raids were underway at different locations.

France’s L’Equipe newspaper said investigators were looking into the misuse of personal expenses, “certain contracts in the past and also alleged irregularities linked to the ticketing system for the 2023 World Cup.”

Atcher’s deputy Julien Collette took over from him as chief executive.

The Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 8 next year with hosts France playing New Zealand at the Stade de France. 

The final is scheduled for October 28.

The dysfunctions in the World Cup organising committee are an unwelcome embarrassment for France as it prepares to host the Olympics in 2024.

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