French Players’ Union in disarray

·2-min read

The French Players’ Union, known as the Provale, has been hit by a wave of resignations linked to the behaviour of its President, former Perpignan lock Robins Tchale-Watchou.

Five out of the 18 steering committee members have resigned over the past few weeks: Jérôme Fillol (former scrum-half of Stade Français), Fanny Horta (former captain of France women sevens team), Rabah Slimani (Clermont prop), Arthur Coville (captain of France’s U20 world title winners in 2018) and Laurent Sempéré (current forwards coach at Stade Français), all citing disagreements in governance methods with Tchale-Watchou. The quintet follows Julien Candelon, a former France international winger, who quit just before the pandemic.

Social problems

Moreover, all have explicitly stated reasons of ‘human management’, with Fillol’s resignation particularly damning: “I noticed important social problems: for a structure of twelve employees, thirteen departures under the current presidency, all pushed out, no resignation. This way of separating employees (the vast majority of whom were recruited by the president himself) is very expensive for the structure (allowances, transactions, lawyers’ fees etc.)” he wrote, quoted in Midi-Olympique.

Another former employee of the Provale calls the management of the union ‘brutal’, talking of a ‘climate of terror’. Although only two of the thirteen departures referred to by Fillol have been referred to an industrial tribunal, he reckons that the others were paid off, saying: “They have been the subject of financial transactions within a legal framework. But it is very expensive for Provale.”

Fillol also called into question the financial management of the union under its President.

“I have seen political and financial mismanagement,” his letter continued. “I found, during the analysis of the 2019 accounts (I have still been waiting for those of 2020 for eight months from the treasurer) colossal costs including motorcycle taxis and phone bills amounting to thousands of euros per month, and in parallel with the frequent absences of the president during the meetings and important decisions in which he is supposed to participate.”

Tchale Watchou was already under fire for having changed the statutes of the union in order to extend his tenure and give himself further executive powers, but the quintet of resignations leaves the union with serious personnel problems. Tchale Watchou declined to comment.

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