Paris - France's financial prosecution
service (PNF) has opened an investigation into allegations of corruption and
embezzlement at the French Tennis Federation (FFT), a judicial source said on
The case relates to possible corruption
connected to the sale of tickets for the French Open Grand Slam tennis
tournament at Roland Garros in Paris. The preliminary inquiry was opened on
March 19, the source said.
The Paris prosecutor alerted the PNF to the
suspicions on March 11 and the PNF transferred the case to the judicial
police's anti-corruption office.
The FFT has been rocked by a number of
recent controversies, including the firing of managing director Gilbert Ysern
in February after weeks of disagreements with president Jean Gachassin.
That move divided French tennis with top
players Gilles Simon and Julien Benneteau backing the ousted Ysern.
Other controversies saw Arnaud Clement
evicted as Davis Cup captain to be replaced by Yannick Noah, with Clement then
suing the FFT for $1.7 million, and Guadeloupe being selected as the venue for
a Davis Cup tie against Canada in March.
On February 17 a satirical French
newspaper, Le Canard Enchaine, published an article alleging misconduct by
Gachassin, accusing him of selling French Open tickets at face value to a
travel agent friend who then sold them on at five times their original price.
"In exchange, the FFT president, a
former rugby international, was invited by the travel agency to the Six
Nations, all expenses paid," wrote another newspaper, the Journal de
That sparked an investigation into the FFT
by the French sports ministry.
The Journal de Dimanche claimed to have
consulted "dozens of bills and photocopies of cheques demonstrating that
numerous leagues resold, during the 1990s and 2000s, their tickets for two to
four times their face value", although that system has since been cleaned
up by the electronic age.
"If (elected officials) are making
money (from selling tickets above face value) that's serious and the Ministry
of Justice is right to investigate," said Jeremy Botton, the FFT's interim
"We'll play the game all the way with
the justice system but the media harm has already been done."