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Former test star Sebastian Chabal helped France get the hosting rights to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Former French star Sebastien Chabal has denied any wrongdoing in claims of a ticketing scandal enveloping this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
The Parisian alleged that tournament ambassador Chabal had secured more than 100 tickets for the tournament when his official role entitled him to just eight.
They also alleged another former player, Henri Mioch, project manager for the organization of the World Cup between 2017 and 2020, may have acquired even more tickets than Chabal.
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Chabal, who played 62 tests from 2000 to 2011, confirmed in a statement to news agency AFP that he does have access to tickets but denied any irregularities, including the resale of tickets for profit.
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“Yes, I benefited from a privileged access to buy more tickets than it is possible to do for one person, because of my status as an ambassador for France 2023,” Chabal, known as Caveman for his famous long hair and rugged playing approach, told AFP.
“I didn’t get any free tickets or preferential prices. And now, I have no intention of making profits on these tickets.
“Obviously these tickets cannot be re-sold by those who benefit from them. It is just as unthinkable that they can be used for commercial operations.”
Le Parison alleged the situation evolved from an office raid in November last year.
Their source said the volume of tickets involved means “there is no doubt that this is ticket trafficking”.
They claimed tickets priced at $500 could be resold for $2500.
An AFP source claimed the resale of tickets was still under investigation.
Specialist French site Rugby frame continued the story on Monday, reporting the searches “would have revealed that several hundred match tickets would have been diverted from the traditional sales system … when at the same time, many supporters had not managed to obtain the famous competition tickets”.
France’s preparations for hosting the World Cup in September and October have been dogged by controversy.
Chief organizer Claude Atcher was sacked last October for leveraging his position and creating an abusive working environment.
Consequently, France’s national financial crimes prosecutor’s office launched an investigation dealing with “favouritism, influence peddling, corruption and any other related offense relating to the management” of the organizing committee.
The organizing committee’s board of directors has appointed Julien Collette – Atcher’s former deputy general director – as a replacement for Atcher.
And Bernard Laporte has been suspended as French Rugby Federation president while he fights a suspended two-year sentence on corruption charges.
Laporte self-suspended as World Rugby vice-chairman last month, within hours of a Paris court finding him guilty of passive corruption, influence peddling, illegal interest taking and misuse of corporate assets.
He was banned from holding any position in rugby for two years but his lawyer Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi said he would appeal the ruling, meaning the former France coach and sports minister could keep the FFR presidency for now.