World Cup boss in hot water over ‘social malaise’

2023 World Cup CEO Claude Atcher was suspended as a preliminary investigation into his management style found evidence of a “deep social malaise” within the organisation.

“Atcher will no longer be present or active, directly or indirectly, within, in the name of and on behalf of the GIP [organising committee] during the period of layoff,” the French Sports Ministry said in a statement.

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A definitive decision will be delivered at a later date.

Atcher’s suspension, which comes just over a year before the tournament kicks off in Paris, was prompted by the preliminary findings of a labour inspectorate investigation launched at the end of June after an article in sports daily L’Equipe accused him of “management by terror”.

A report by the ethics committee had accused the 66-year-old of “alarming managerial practices altering the functioning of the structure and the suffering of a certain number of employees”.

In the L’Equipe article, several former and current employees, on condition of anonymity, spoke out about the “management by terror” set up by Atcher and his chief of staff within the organisation.

World Rugby issued a statement admitting it was “deeply concerned” by the allegations.

“The well-being of the rugby family is paramount and central to the values of unity, inclusion and togetherness that embody the World Cup,” added World Rugby, who stressed its desire to work with the organising committee “to deliver together an exceptional Rugby World Cup in France”.

Atcher’s deputy Julien Collette will be installed as his provisional replacement at an emergency board meeting on Friday.

The World Cup kicks off on 8 September next year with hosts France playing against New Zealand at the Stade de France, which will also host the final on 28 October.

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Getty Images

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