The head of France’s professional handball league has been taken in for police questioning in a child sexual assault and pornography probe, French prosecutors said Wednesday, the latest sports scandal in the country ahead of next year’s Paris Olympics.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said Bruno Martini was taken into custody Monday morning on suspicion of attempted sexual assault on a 15-year-old, of corrupting a minor and recording pornographic images of children. The president of the National Handball League was then released Tuesday night ahead of an expected plea deal on the child corruption and pornography charges, the prosecutor’s office said.
Before moving into handball management, Martini was a star player, keeping goal in 202 appearances for the French national team. He’s the latest leader of an Olympic sport in France under police investigation in the countdown to the 2024 Games, which open in Paris in just under 550 days.
French soccer federation president Noël Le Graët is under investigation for sexual harassment and “moral harassment.” French rugby federation president Bernard Laporte is appealing a two-year suspended sentence that a Paris court handed down last month. He was found guilty of passive corruption, influence peddling, illegal interest-taking and misuse of corporate assets.
The head of the Paris Games organizing committee, Tony Estanguet, expressed hope Wednesday that the various cases will progress quickly “so we can turn the page.”
“French sports need stability,” he said. “We hope things quickly return to normal.”
The National Handball League’s executive committee held an emergency meeting Wednesday to consider Martini’s position and said it was expecting his resignation as president, calling it “probable and desirable.”
Handball is a popular sport in France. The country’s men and women are the reigning Olympic champions.
News of the probe involving Martini, a two-time Olympian and two-time world champion with the national team, came as France’s men were preparing to play Germany on Wednesday for a semifinal spot at the world championships.