French Rugby World Cup ticketing in prosecutors' sights: ministry

French prosecutors are scrutinising the use of company cars by the sacked former boss of the 2023 Rugby World Cup organisers as well as the ticketing system for the competition, France's sports ministry said Thursday.

The national financial crimes prosecutor's office announced Wednesday it was investigating possible favouritism, corruption and influence-peddling in the organisation responsible for delivering the World Cup.

In a statement, the sports ministry confirmed that the inquiry would look specifically into the decision-making and practices under former boss Claude Atcher, who was ousted last month.

The probe will include "an analysis of the use of resources put at the disposal of Claude Atcher, notably his company car and taxis".

It would also assess "the existence of possible failings, conflicts of interests, or other issues that could be of a criminal nature in the structuring of some projects and in past procurements."

Prosecutors were also looking at "management of ticketing" by the organising committee and its "travel and hospitality" packages, the statement said, without giving further details.

Inspectors at the finance and sport ministries have been analysing Atcher's management dealings since a series of reports in L'Equipe newspaper in June that alleged malpractice.

The dysfunctions in the World Cup organising committee are an unwelcome embarrassment for France less than a year before the opening game kicks off on September 4.

The country is also preparing to host the Olympics in 2024.

French rugby is also reeling from a separate investigation into Bernard Laporte, head of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) and a former sports minister.

Prosecutors sought a three-year jail term for him during a trial in September where he was accused of corruption and influence-peddling over a shirt sponsorship deal.

Atcher, a longstanding administrator in the French rugby world, was also on trial in the same case that involves Mohed Altrad, the billionaire owner of Top 14 champions Montpellier.

Prosecutors called for Atcher to receive a two-year prison sentence, with one suspended.

He and Laporte deny the charges.

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