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Rugby World Cup CEO sacked following bullying investigation

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Tuesday Oct 11, 2022

With the Rugby World Cup just a year away, one of the tournament’s top bosses has had his contract terminated with immediate effect.

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Claude Atcher was the CEO of the France 2023 tournament, before being suspended back in August. Since then a French Labour investigation has concluded that he was running a program that saw bullying in the workplace. This caused severe burnout within the staff with reports of employees suffering panic attacks due to the stress.

His initial suspension came about after French news publication, L’Equipe, revealed 15 first-hand allegations by employees, including one where the former CEO told one female employee “you’re a dirty little idiot”.

Described as a “climate of terror”, the French government intervened quickly after finding “alarming managerial practices” during their investigation.

At the time of his suspension, World Rugby released a statement that read, “World Rugby was deeply concerned by the allegations made through the French media.

“The wellbeing of the rugby family is paramount and central to the values of unity, inclusivity and fun that epitomise Rugby World Cup, the sport’s ultimate celebration of togetherness.”

Following the conclusion of Atcher’s sacking a statement has been issued on behalf of France 2023’s Organising Committee:

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“The France 2023 organising committee’s board of directors met in an extraordinary session on Monday, October 10. Its president Jacques Rivoal shared with the board the conclusions from the French Labour Inspectorate investigation, which was launched after an article published on June 22 mentioned the social climate within the organising committee and the management of its CEO, Claude Atcher.

“The report brought forward by the French Labour Inspectorate corroborates and complements the report produced by the France 2023 ethics committee, submitted at the end of August and reviewed on September 2 by the France 2023 board of directors.

“Following this board meeting, Atcher’s suspension was unanimously ratified by France 2023’s founding members: the Federation Francaise de Rugby (FFR), the French State, and the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF).

“Taking note of the report’s conclusions, France 2023’s board of directors has decided to terminate the contract of its CEO, Claude Atcher. Following the FFR president’s proposal, and in accordance with article 4.3.1 of France 2023’s internal and financial regulations, the board of directors has appointed Julien Collette as CEO and Martine Nemecek as Deputy CEO.

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Following this board meeting, Atcher’s suspension was unanimously ratified by France 2023’s founding members: the Federation Francaise de Rugby (FFR), the French State, and the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF).

“Taking note of the report’s conclusions, France 2023’s board of directors has decided to terminate the contract of its CEO, Claude Atcher. Following the FFR president’s proposal, and in accordance with article 4.3.1 of France 2023’s internal and financial regulations, the board of directors has appointed Julien Collette as CEO and Martine Nemecek as Deputy CEO.

“The new France 2023 management team and its employees will continue to work together to offer an exceptional moment of celebration throughout France and its regions, with the promise of delivering a responsible event both in terms of organisation and legacy for the sport and society.”

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