French dispute reaches the courts

A bitter legal battle at the heart of French Rugby League threatens to derail the country’s preparations for next year’s World Cup.

The long-running dispute between FFRXIII President Marc Palanques and former national skipper Jason Baitieri (pictured) ended up in the hands of police last week as the Gendarmerie began their investigation into allegations of racial slurs, libel and slander.

Baitieri walked out of last year’s tour of Australia after complaining of a “lack of professionalism” from the French administration and then published a lengthy document to support his claims.

Among several accusations was that Palanques had made derogatory comments in front of the French team before an international match against Jamaica in October 2017.

Palanques and the French Federation immediately disputed the allegations and announced that legal action would be taken, but it has taken almost twelve months for the police to become involved.

This has now resulted in Baitieri attending his local police station to make statements and it seems likely that his fellow international team-mates, who were present at the match against Jamaica, will be asked for their accounts.

The row is set to rumble on as the law takes due process, which cannot help France coach Aurélien Cologni’s efforts to produce a competitive and cohesive squad for the coming World Cup.

Palanques has already announced his decision not to stand in December’s elections for the next Presidency of the French Federation.

Three contenders for the role have already declared their interest including the Federation’s General Secretary Fabienne Albert who, if successful, would become the first female national chief in Rugby League.

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