In an email revealed by Daniel Riolo on RMC show l’After Foot on Tuesday night – and first disclosed by journalist Romain Molina earlier in the evening – serious accusations have made by Julien Fournier, Nice’s former Director of Football, against manager Christophe Galtier during their time at OGC Nice. According to the email, Galtier notably told Fournier that the team “could not have so many blacks and Muslims in the team.”
Per RMC’s report, the email was sent by Fournier to INEOS director Dave Brailsford and details a conversation between Fournier and Galtier, after the former had met with the latter’s agent. The alleged email reads as follows:
“Dave, I feel it is important, in light of your new responsibilities and now that the season is finished, to relate to you in detail what I was speaking to you about on Friday during our last discussion, and what has weighed heavily on me throughout the season. This isn’t about retracing the numerous difficulties that I encountered with the coach from a sporting point of view, because that is part of my job, and that will be the subject of a sporting end-of-season review.”
“The past season has been incredibly trying for me because I had to ‘tolerate’ (without ever accepting) completely unacceptable, intolerable events, attitudes and comments that are contrary to my values, from the coach. I want to go through them in order. I want to point out that all of these extremely serious facts went to your predecessor (who has now left his role), in real-time, but it now seems crucial to me that you are now perfectly informed.”
“Meeting on the 9th August 2021: I met, at his request, the son and supposed agent (without a licence) of the coach, on the 9th of August, two days after the first league game, played at home against Stade de Reims. He wished ‘to see me urgently’ because he believed that the situation of his ‘client’ was untenable. Of course, I accepted the meeting thinking that there was an urgent sporting problem to rectify. He then told me of the ‘untenable’ situation of his father, by saying the following: ‘Julien it’s not working. My dad was in tears yesterday, you don’t realise.’ I asked him what was the matter and he explained to me, ‘This team doesn’t reflect him, and we can’t continue like this.’ I asked him to back up his comments so that I could properly understand, and he told me, ‘ You’ve built a team of scum [racaille].”
“In shock at these comments, and trying to imagine the reality of them, I asked him to be more precise, and he added, ‘There are only blacks and half of the team are at the mosque on Friday afternoon. He continued by adding that this was one of the reasons that they had to buy his player, Jordan Ferri, in order to satisfy his dad (Christophe Galtier had already, on numerous occasions, both before and after this meeting, asked me to do everything to recruit Jordan Ferri). I took care to note all of the comments that he brought to me (after having asked the speaker to confirm them and asking if I could put them on paper, which he confirmed). I told Mr John Valovic-Galtier that I was offended by his comments and I asked him to leave my office immediately.”
“Christophe Galtier then came into my office and said hello to his son, who told me, ‘You can check with my dad what I told you.’ Once his son/agent had left, I made Christophe aware of the discussion that I had just had and I asked him if it was true. He (Christophe Galtier) told me that I had to take into account the ‘reality of the city’ and that we couldn’t have so many blacks and Muslims in the team. He said to me ‘Last night, I went to the restaurant and everyone came down on me to say that we have a team of blacks’ then added ‘Julien, you must realise what city we are in, we’re in the city of [former mayor] Jacques Médécin. Our team does not reflect what people want, just as it does not reflect myself.’ There was no sporting argument, but just arguments about religion and skin colour.”
“A detailed debrief was immediately done by the President of the supervisory board at the time, in Bob Ratcliffe. This discussion left gaping traces in my relationships throughout the year, but I sincerely thought that the subject was closed and that he had realised the gravity of his comments. The arrival of Ramadan was the theatre of incredible scenes, which forced me to intervene once more, and in an official way, within my functions.”
“The weeks preceding Ramadan were an opportunity for CG (Christophe Galtier) to complain continuously about the fact that ‘we had too many Muslim players’ in the team, making sure to (including with you) hide behind the deceptive argument of the non-compatibility of the practice of Ramadan with performance in high-level sport. He expressed his exasperation, in words, on numerous occasions and I had to officially intervene to (try) to end his behaviour.”
“I organised a meeting with CG on the 31st of March to prepare the outline for the team for the 2022/23 season, and to know which players he didn’t wish to keep for the upcoming season. When I asked him the question, he made me aware of his desire for deep changes to the team, putting forward sporting arguments, but specifying that he wanted to limit as much as possible the number of Muslims in the team, and notably wanted to get rid of (Jean-Clair) Todibo, (Youcef) Atal, (Hicham) Boudaoui, (Amine) Gouiri, (Mario) Lemina…”
“When we began speaking about the possible new recruits, I spoke about defenders and about Ogan [sic, Ozan] Kabak, who we wanted to hone in on. He replied that being Turkish, the player is Muslim, and therefore he didn’t want him. My reaction at the time… was to not react, fearing another incident that would leave more traces in our relationship, which could have considerable professional consequences.”
“The day after this meeting (1st April) he (Galtier) finds out that Billal Brahimi (a January recruit and a Muslim) fasts every day, and [Galtier] writes to me the same day: ‘Billal joins to the list of players that follow Ramadan on the day of the match. There was what was said before signing the contract, and then there’s what’s being done once here. I am disgusted and very angry. We will try and finish the season well.'”
“Billal Brahimi was then left out of the group for the match the next day (2nd April) against Rennes. On Sunday 3rd, I sent the following message to CG: ‘Hello Christophe, I didn’t want to respond to your message before the match, in order to allow you to best prepare for the match, but I should like to think that Billal wasn’t left out of the squad yesterday, because of Ramadan. The subject of Ramadan is something that we need to seriously talk about in order to make it compatible with performance, but also with calmness and tolerance, and in a head-on way. I need to see you quickly on this subject because as you say, we need to ‘finish the season well’ before taking on the next one. In any case, I don’t accept taking into account religious criteria (or any other criteria that you evoked this summer) in building next season’s team, and you will have to accept that. Please let me know your availability tomorrow or Monday.”
“We saw each other on Tuesday the 5th in a meeting, during which I indicated that needed to stop these shameful doings and that if it was too difficult for him, he could leave the club. He was shocked that I could send him such a message, because he told me, “What is in writing, remains.”
“Bob Ratcliffe was kept up to date on all of the exchanges, oral and written, in real-time and even offered to come and see CG and tell him that he must immediately stop this behaviour, which is contrary to the law and to all of the values which INEOS carries and defends.”
According to sources contacted by Get French Football News, Galtier, who in Fournier’s alleged email, complained about the effects of fasting on performance, was provided with fitness data, broken down player-by-player, which showed that Ramadan had no effect on the players’ physical levels. However, despite this information, Galtier continued to make his feelings on fasting known.
As reported by Nice-Matin, Galtier asked Nice players not to fast during Ramadan, and whilst some players adhered to this request, others did not. Boudadoui is reportedly one of them, whilst Todibo “exploded” at the request, and threw a training cone during a session.
Fournier had previously hinted at serious issues with Galtier during an interview on RMC earlier in the season, indicating issues beyond the scope of football. but had not provided any specifics. The email obtained by l’After Foot – which Riolo says was not sent to him by Fournier himself – gives a troubling account of the disagreement.
He did, however, speak about the initial comments made by Fournier at a press conference back in September, stating that he was not surprised by the way in which he had been characterised and that he did not want to engage in a debate on the matter.
Fournier also left Nice at the end of the season, weeks before Galtier, but Get French Football News believe that his departure was unrelated to his strained relationship with Galtier. The management at Nice were aware that they had to get rid of Galtier, although that option would have been financially onerous. PSG’s approach, therefore, made life a lot easier for the hierarchy at the club, who ultimately replaced him with Lucien Favre.
Galtier, through a statement made by his lawyer to AFP, has refuted the allegations “in the strongest terms“.
GFFN | Luke Entwistle