Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has been fined €75,000 following comments he made after his side's Champions Cup clash with Benetton.
A further €25,000 fine is suspended for three years for any similar offending or misconduct by Boudjellal in any rugby jurisdiction, while Toulon are subject to a deduction of five match points when competing in EPCR tournaments, suspended for three seasons for any similar offending or misconduct by the club or any of its representatives in any rugby jurisdiction.
An independent Disciplinary Committee made up of Chairman, Philip Evans QC (England), Dan White (England) and Jean-Noël Couraud (France), convened in London on July 4 under EPCR’s Disciplinary Rules to hear misconduct complaints against Boudjellal, and Toulon, related to comments made by Boudjellal to the media during January and February.
Following the Champions Cup, Round 5 match Boudjellal made comments that (among other things) allegedly condoned homophobic conduct, discriminated against and insulted various groups, and brought the game of rugby into disrepute by attacking, disparaging and criticising EPCR.
EPCR brought misconduct complaints in respect of those comments against Boudjellal and Toulon (the complaints against Toulon were based on its overall responsibility for the actions of Boudjellal and its failure to control those actions).
The independent Disciplinary Committee upheld the complaints against Boudjellal and Toulon in their entirety, ruling (among other things) that Boudjellal’s comments discriminated against and insulted a number of different groups and that they brought the game of rugby into disrepute.
The independent Disciplinary Committee considered the misconduct to have been very serious and determined that both Boudjellal and Toulon should receive a significant sanction. The Committee also concluded that there were several aggravating factors, including poor disciplinary records and poor conduct during the disciplinary process, and that these increased the severity of the sanctions imposed.
That poor conduct included ignoring directions made by the independent Disciplinary Committee and responding derisively to requests from the Committee for information.
The independent Disciplinary Committee stated in its written decision that: “We had a responsibility to pass a sanction which properly marks rugby’s disapproval of the use, or condoning of the use, of any remark which is discriminatory or insulting. Such remarks only undermine the confidence and the desire of the majority of those involved in rugby to promote an entirely inclusive and diverse game … We considered this case to be a very serious example of offending of this type.”
Boudjellal and Toulon, who both chose not to attend the hearing, have also been ordered to pay EPCR’s costs.
Boudjellal, Toulon and EPCR have the right to appeal the decisions.