Waking up this Wednesday morning, the leaders of the National Handball League did not expect to experience such a trying day. Early in the morning, they learned of the legal troubles of their president, Bruno Martini, placed in police custody and then referred to the Paris court for “corruption of a minor” and “possession and acquisition of child pornography images”, as revealed France Info. A few hours later, the latter will recognize the facts and will accept the suspended sentence of twelve months in prison, accompanied by a fine of 2,500 euros and a five-year ban on carrying out an activity involving contact with minors proposed by the prosecution. from Paris.

After the publication of the article, in the morning, it is radio silence, with “ban on commenting”, in the clubs of the first and second divisions. Time to get organized urgently. Crisis management first takes the form of a meeting of the Union of Professional Handball Clubs (UCPH) at noon, before the NHL’s steering committee, made up of 15 members, meets exceptionally at 1 p.m. . This meeting was held, according to our information, without Bruno Martini or his lawyer.

Inevitable resignation

At the end of this steering committee, a company hailed by the Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castera, the leaders of the NHL are unanimous: They “await the probable and desirable resignation of Bruno Martini, knowing that a possible condemnation would lead to right to an impossibility of exercising the function”, they write in a press release. Reassembled, they say they are “collectively ready to return their mandate to lead to the organization of new elections” if ever if the former goalkeeper of the France team decides to cling to his post.

An approach that followed another statement from the French Handball Federation, which urged the world champion in 1995 and 2001, to “resign from all of his mandates within the handball family and in particular from his role of representative of the NHL within the board of directors of the FFH”.

“There is no choice”

“I heard the news while watching television and I am appalled, explains to 20 minutes Jean-Pierre Vandaele, president of Dunkerque Handball, who could not make himself available for the UCPH meeting. It is up to him to resign immediately from his post, or he “will be resigned”. There is no choice. “In the middle of the afternoon, Bruno Martini runs with immediate effect.

Among the leaders of French clubs, some are pleased that it did not drag on and praise the “reactivity” of the world of handball. “This is a private matter which does not reflect the world of handball in general, and the club I manage in particular”, comments a president of the first division. “What happened does not engage the National Handball League, adds Jean-Pierre Vandaele. You have to share things. Handball is not a man and his deviations. Our sport should not be judged in the same way. »

Repercussions on French handball?

Contacted to find out if this case could have repercussions on its involvement in French handball, the French branch of Liqui Moly, which gave its name to the championship, told us that it was “prohibited from speaking”. In an email, the headquarters of the auto lubricant brand, based in Germany, writes that it “was aware of the accusations against the president of the NHL, but that she would not comment”. The broadcaster of the French championship, beIN Sports, did not respond to our requests.

What now of the work launched by Bruno Martini at the head of the NHL? According to several leaders, this resignation should have no consequences on the organization of the body. “This director office is relatively strong, it can function and work without a president, assures the Dunkirk president. There is no urgency to appoint a president in the coming days. »

“Everything will be done by the League within forty-eight hours to make the necessary arrangements,” says another leader. According to the NHL press release, the League’s steering committee will meet this Thursday to organize the interim, before the elective general meeting, already scheduled for March 7.

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