a bill soon to be examined in the Senate

As part of a commission of inquiry in the Senate, you interviewed dozens of sports players. What did you conclude?

More than in other sectors, omerta has reigned in sport, in the name of the sacralization of the coach and of performance. Since the revelations of Sarah Abitbol in “Un si long silence” in 2020, and the work you have done at “l’Obs”, the omerta has been broken, speech has been released. But over the course of our hearings, we have taken the measure of the path that remains to be traveled. This is a sector where there is a lack of training and information.

The sequel after the ad

You insist a lot on the need to strengthen the control of the good repute of those involved in sports?

Yes, it is essential. In 2021, the law confirming the principles of the Republic introduced the obligation for clubs, at the time of taking out a licence, to collect the full identity of any person likely to exercise a function of sports educator or intervene with minors. The clubs then send the information collected to the honorability referent of each federation, who then submits the list of people to be checked on a dedicated platform of the Ministry of Sports. Then, the State examines the national criminal record (bulletin n° 2), and the automated national judicial file of perpetrators of sexual or violent offenses (FIJAIS).

This very heavy system does not work well, it seems…

Not totally: out of 2 million educators, the ministerial unit admits having checked only 925,000. Barely half! Many club presidents have not appropriated the procedure. We also found anomalies in the entry of forms, which delay decisions… Meanwhile, predators can continue to work in contact with children. And finally, we discovered that the convictions recorded on bulletin 2 of the criminal record fade over time! Condemnations are no longer visible.

The sequel after the ad

“You have trampled on my soul”: when Sarah Abitbol told her hell

What exactly do you offer?

Our ultimate objective is to ensure that no more intervener in the sports environment, placed in contact with minors, has been the subject of a registration contrary to contact with children, or has been the subject of a conviction that he would have omitted to declare. It is not enough to control the person when he is already in the club, it is necessary to control it before. Our text proposes to establish an a priori integrity control of all volunteers and employees by club and federation presidents.

It is said that you had opposition within the commission [de la culture, de l’éducation et de la communication ] who examined your proposal in the Senate?

Yes. For example, the fact of extending control to all stakeholders – the parents who accompany, the guy who comes to take photos, the one who serves drinks at the bar – was not retained… Some have pointed out that this reinforced control was going to make the already complicated recruitment of volunteers by the clubs even more difficult. Even if I am fully aware of the fears that this text may arouse, the priority is of course to pull the rug out from under the feet of sexual predators! And I am very happy: today, the commission delivered its conclusions, which were adopted unanimously. We won the first half.

The sequel after the ad

What are your main proposals?

One of the important measures is the fact that with a conviction registered in the FIJAIS, the person can no longer practice, even if the conviction has disappeared from bulletin n°2 of his criminal record, as is already the case in the social and medico-social sector by the Taquet law (2022). It prevents the erasure of the conviction. We also propose that club leaders have the obligation to report to the prefect behavior within their clubs presenting a danger to the safety or moral and physical health of athletes. The prefect has the possibility of suspending, without waiting for a penal decision. Sports leaders who cover this violence must also be able to be sanctioned administratively. There must be an ethical referent in each club, and not only at the level of the federations.

Is the world of gymnastics more permeable to certain forms of violence?

And the next steps?

If the Senate votes our bill in public session on June 15, the text will go to second reading in the Assembly. The Minister of Sports has undertaken to have it examined as soon as possible. Sarah Abitbol, ​​with whom we have been working for several months, is also launching a platform at the same time, which we hope will be signed by many athletes. We must continue to put pressure on the predators, we must not let go. This is only a first text, there will be others!

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