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French rugby is racist says Toulon boss

media Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

Mourad Boudjellal, the president of Toulon Rugby Club, told a French daily on Tuesday that “French rugby is racist”.

“If rugby wants to develop it must take into account the new face of France and that is ‘black- blanc-beur’”, Boudjellal told La Provence newspaper, referring to the phrase popularised after France’s 1998 football world cup victory, to convey a spirit of multiculturalism.

“Today, if a certain section of the country is not at all interested in rugby, it’s because it is very conservative, and reflects a very particular stereotypical Frenchness with which many people do not identify.”

Asked whether he considered rugby racist he replied “Yes, French rugby is racist. It reflects a France which is very inward-looking and conservative.”

The Toulon president says he has been the victim of racist insults while on the field, and that he regularly receives abusive letters.

Boudjellal is to appear before a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday, to answer charges of defamation, after he made lurid comments about referees in the wake of a Top 14 defeat.

The UNAR referee union is angry that Boudjellal spoke of “refereeing sodomy” in the aftermath of his team’s 25 –19 loss to Clermont on 8 January.

He faces a 60-day suspension for his outburst, but told journalists “This summons demonstrates the limits of rugby….for me, people who are shocked by the word “sodomy” are old gits and I do not wish to be an old git”.


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