Sète Olympique FC: “Religion must not enter the sporting sphere”, justice confirms the sanction

Sète Olympique FC: “Religion must not enter the sporting sphere”, justice confirms the sanction

Le préfet de l'Hérault, François-Xavier Lauch, est venu défendre son arrêté préfectoral. MIDI LIBRE – NICOLAS ZARROUK

Accusé en autres de pratiques communautaires par le préfet de l’Hérault, le Sète Olympique FC demandait au tribunal administratif de suspendre l’arrêté préfectoral lui retirant son agrément associatif.

On Facebook, Sète Olympique FC announced that "the destiny of the club" was being decided this Thursday 16&nbsp ;may. Not on a football field, but in front of the courts. The president, some of the players and some supporters therefore made the trip to the administrative court. But a few hours after the hearing, the Montpellier court announced that it had rejected the request for interim relief filed by the sports association against the prefectural decree withdrawing its approval and, in turn, depriving him of competition and access to municipal training grounds.

Emergency procedure rejected

Justice did not retain the nature of urgency – on the impossibility of playing the last two matches for the club's two teams – nor any serious doubt as to the legality of the order of the prefect of Hérault", specifies a press release.

On February 14, the prefect of Hérault decided to sanction Sète Olympique FC on the basis of a report submitted by the Departmental Youth Service, to Engagement and Sports. During an inspection carried out eight months earlier, state agents had pointed out serious breaches of association law, but also the presence of religious signs and objects and the refusal on the part of of the president to open a women’s section.

"We are facing Islamophobia"

This Thursday morning, the club's lawyer once again rejected the accusations of communitarianism. "We point out a logo bearing the star and the crescent, it was changed last June. And I have demonstrated that many other clubs in France display religious symbols, whatever the confession. There is talk of a refusal to open a women's section, but we are in the presence of a club with barely fifty members. In Sète, there are many much larger structures that do not have women! The rest of the report's observations are on administrative points. However, the prefect decided to communicate on community practices (the affair made the headlines in the national media after a tweet published on the prefecture's account, Editor's note) to give itself political credit. We are facing Islamophobia and racism on the part of public authorities", denounces Me Guez Guez.

Sète Olympique FC: “Religion must not enter the sporting sphere”, justice confirms the sanction

The prefect places an information note in the file

In front of him, the prefect François-Xavier Lauch had made the trip in person to defend his decree before a court which, proof of the specificity of the case, was for the occasion composed of three magistrates. After highlighting the very approximate administrative and financial management of the club, the State representative insisted on the "cluster of indices" pointing towards the president and certain members of Sète Olympique FC. And gave the judges a "blank note" intelligence services. “Some people who make up this club are known for their withdrawal into identity and their proximity to the Salafist movement. My role is to protect practitioners and send a strong signal. Religion must not enter into the sporting sphere."

Sète Olympique FC: “Religion must not enter the sporting sphere”, justice confirms the sanction

The administrative court must now rule on the merits of the case, but this may not happen for several months. In the meantime, Sète Olympique FC should be summoned before the disciplinary authorities of the French Football Federation. He will then know if his suspension from all competition as a precautionary measure, taken on April 26, is confirmed.

“I will send the documents”

Reaction. This Thursday evening, Me Guez Guez told us he took note of the decision. "I will quickly transmit all the documents and administrative reports requested this morning (yesterday) by the prefecture, and ask the prefect to kindly, in the light of these elements, re-examine his order", specifies the lawyer.

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