French Rugby player controversy overshadows World Cup, 'I Am Not A Racist'

French Rugby player controversy overshadows World Cup, 'I Am Not A Racist'
In a scandal that has overshadowed hosts France's Rugby World Cup preparations, French lock Bastien Chalureau on Monday denied claims that he is racist.

The 31-year-old Montpellier player stated at a press conference, "I am not a racist.

Chalureau is contesting a conviction for a racially motivated assault in 2020 that resulted in a six-month prison sentence.

What he said was, "I want to say to you, I admitted my mistakes, I paid my debts, and I deny all claims about racist remarks."

Chalureau claimed that the incident was known to the French coaching staff.

"We talked about the situation with the French team staff; they were aware right away that it was an old case and well-known to many people.

"I wanted to speak up in front of everyone on my team and my family because this issue affects my entire family in addition to me.

"To clarify the matter, I wanted to appear before you today.

"I don't discriminate; instead, I unite people. In tears, he continued, "The beauty of rugby is that it draws people from all cultures together.

During a lunch meeting with the team on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron was overheard saying to head coach Fabien Galthie, "We don't want the controversy getting out of hand."

The head of World Rugby, Alan Gilpin, stated earlier in the day that racism had no place in the game.

At a pre-World Cup press conference, Gilpin said, "There is absolutely no place for discrimination in rugby and certainly (no place) for racism."

It's critical to understand that we must adhere to the legal system, he continued.

As a replacement for injured Montpellier teammate Paul Willemse, Chalureau, who made the first of his six Test appearances in November, was called into Galthie's squad last week.

His federation provided him with assistance.

The president of the French Rugby Federation, Florian Grill, stated that "he acknowledged the violent acts but still denies the racist remarks."

He continued, "He's appealed the judgment and we have to allow the law to run its course.

Thierry Dusautoir, who led France to the 2011 World Cup final, claimed he had never had a positive opinion of Chalureau.

One of the victims' close friends is Dusautoir.

"I've always had a problem with him being in the French national team," he admitted to Canal Plus.

"I'm aware that I'm not being objective in this," he continued.

In the inaugural match of the World Cup on Friday, France will host New Zealand in an effort to capture the Webb-Ellis trophy for the first time.

On Wednesday, Galthie selects his team to play the three-time World Cup champions.
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