The French Rugby Federation (FFR) HQ was raided by police on Monday, according to Bernès & Bourel of L’ÉQUIPE. The raid was ordered by France’s National Finance Office (PNF), which opened a preliminary investigation into the favoritism affair involving FFR President Bernard Laporte. He is suspected of pressuring French rugby’s appeals commission to reduce a fine on Pro14 side Montpellier in June. The club is owned by Mohed Altrad, with whom Laporte signed a personal contract worth €150,000. Altrad’s construction firm, Altrad Group, recently signed a five-year, €35M-per-year contract to sponsor the French national men’s rugby team’s jersey. It was the only company to bid for the sponsorship (L’ÉQUIPE, 1/23). In Paris, Décugis & Pelletier reported Laporte’s home was also raided. The preliminary investigation by the PNF is “looking to shed light on possible conflicts of interest.” Laporte has denied all allegations. Altrad’s home as well as Altrad Group offices were also raided (LE PARISIEN, 1/23).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The Victorian Commission of Gambling & Liquor Regulation is investigating Tennis Australia after accusations it "contravened anti-corruption protocol" and that it "has not done enough to prevent match fixing," according to Nino Bucci of THE AGE. An eight-month investigation is "in its final stages," and will determine whether Tennis Australia is "fit to continue as a sports controlling body." If Tennis Australia is stripped of its authorization, it would "lose its cut of profits from bets made on Australian tennis as well as the right to sign sponsorship agreements with wagering companies," combined income "potentially worth tens of millions of dollars." The investigation began after former Brumby Government Gaming Minister Tony Robinson complained to the commission in May after information that arose from a match-fixing case involving former Australian Open boys champion Oliver Anderson (THE AGE, 1/24).
COMPROMISING STABILITY: In London, Mark Souster reported cutting the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2 ($2.80) per spin "would have unintended consequences for British racing and the wider rural economy," the British Horseracing Authority said on Monday. The BHA believes the £2 figure is too low and could "severely compromise the sport's financial stability." It is "unusual for the BHA to weigh in so strongly on an issue and it has bided its time in doing so." But gambling revenues are the "lifeblood of the sport" and the authority "obviously believes there will be serious knock-on consequences for retail bookmakers and thus racing" (LONDON TIMES, 1/23). Also in London, Dominic Walsh reported bookmakers are "weighing up the possibility of legal action against the government" after suggestions that ministers have decided to cut the maximum stakes on FOBTs from £100 ($140) to £2. The reports "spooked investors," who had been forecasting a cut in the maximum stake to £20 ($28). Almost £800M ($1.12B) was "wiped off the value of the quoted betting groups," with William Hill and Ladbrokes Coral losing £336M ($470M) and £277M ($387.5M), respectively (LONDON TIMES, 1/23).
FanDuel co-Founders Nigel Eccles and Rob Jones are launching an esports firm. They left FanDuel and will "now focus on their new project," Flick, which they advertise as "a new way for gamers to share and watch gaming content with their friends." The two will provide the initial funding for the new Edinburgh-based company. Jones said that they will soon announce a Series A round of venture funding, hoping to raise "a couple of million" pounds. The co-founders characterized the company as a "social streaming platform" (THE ESPORTS OBSERVER, 1/23).
For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners, esportsobserver.com.
Gaelic Athletic Association Dir General Paraic Duffy said that players should "not be allowed to play at inter-county level until undergoing an anti-doping education programme." Duffy said that anti-doping seminars were delivered to 34 county panels in '17. He said, "You need to have some sort of system where before a player joins a county panel he has to have done an anti-doping education program" (BBC, 1/23).
Former pole vaulter and IAAF SVP Sergey Bubka said that the sport "must evolve" if it is to remain relevant as individual sports look for "new ways to attract fans," but changes introduced should not be at the expense of athlete safety. Bubka, who won pole vault Gold at the Seoul 1988 Olympics, said that change is "essential for track and field to remain attractive" (REUTERS, 1/23).