PSG coach Gauthier denies accusations of racism in Nice

Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Gauthier has categorically rejected accusations that he made racist and anti-Muslim comments as manager of French club Nice, adding on Wednesday that he will take legal action. RMC Sport and other French media published reports citing a leaked email from former Nice director of football Julien Fournier to the club’s owners in which he accused Gauthier of making comments about the team having too many black and Muslim players.

In a statement issued by his lawyer to the French media, Gauthier said he was “horrified to learn of the offensive and defamatory message” and said he would take unspecified legal action.

Meanwhile, a prominent PSG supporters’ group has called on Gauthier to resign if it is proven that he made the alleged remarks. “The Ultras Paris team is following Gauthier’s case closely. If the facts of which he is accused are confirmed, it is unacceptable that this man remains on the club’s organisational map,” the supporters’ group said in a statement. “We would like to remind everyone that we have always stood against discrimination of any kind.”

“RMC Sport said that Fournier, who had disagreements with Gauthier when the latter was at Nice, had written a letter to Ineos sporting director Dave Brailsford to inform him of the details of his conversations with the coach.

In 2019, Ineos bought the French league club and appointed Gauthier as coach in 2021. Before joining PSG, he spent one season at Nice. Fournier also left in 2022 after more than a decade with the club. In a leaked email to Brailsford in August 2021, Gaulier reportedly complained that the team had too many black and Muslim players and that it did not reflect the ethnological profile of the French Riviera city. Nice did not reply to a request for comment.

Speaking from Brazil, Mr Fournier told the local newspaper Nice-Matin that he was not responsible for the leaked document. “The timing of these revelations is as worrying to me as their content,” the paper quoted him as saying.

Gaulnier has come under pressure at PSG after the team’s poor form since the start of the year. PSG was knocked out of the Champions League’s Top 16 for the second season in a row in March and its lead at the top of the French championship has been reduced to six points in 2023 after five defeats. Fournier had earlier hinted at serious problems with Gauthier in an interview with RMC, saying that the PSG coach would “never go into the dressing room in France or Europe again”, thus explaining the reasons for their disagreement.

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