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France Rugby World Cup star Bastien Chalureau sentenced after racially motivated attack

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A French judge recommended on Tuesday that France lock Bastien Chalureau be handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence for a racially-motivated attack in 2020.

Second-row Chalureau, 31, who was part of France’s Rugby World Cup squad earlier this year, was originally given a six-month suspended sentence but appealed.

During his recommendations at the Toulouse Court of Appeal the judge suggested a heavier sentence, two months longer than Chalureau’s original one.

“The facts have been established,” the judge said before adding that the complainants “spoke of undeniably racist remarks”.

The court’s decision regarding the judge’s recommendation is expected on January 16, 2024.

“I greatly regret what I did, I am not racist,” Chalureau, who admitted he had consumed a lot of beer, whiskey and vodka the evening of the attack, told the court.

“I have never made an inappropriate comment towards anyone. I have worked on myself with a psychologist, I’ve changed my lifestyle.”

The court case overshadowed the start to France’s World Cup campaign, before they were knocked out by eventual winners South Africa in the quarter-finals last month.

Chalureau played just half an hour during the campaign after being called up to replace the injured Paul Willemse.

Montpellier’s Chalureau had accepted he attacked two other rugby players during a night out in January 2020 but denies using racist language during the incident.

It took place in Toulouse, when Chalureau played for the town’s top-flight club.

In November 2020, a Toulouse court sentenced Chalureau to a suspended six-month prison sentence for “acts of violence… committed because of the race or ethnicity of the victim”.

Chalureau was sacked by Toulouse after the decision before joining their Top 14 rivals Montpellier.

During the World Cup, former France captain Thierry Dusautoir said he had a problem with Chalureau’s presence in the national team.

Former Toulouse flanker Dusautoir is a close friend of one of the victims.

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French president Emmanuel Macron had said it would be preferable that Chalureau no longer played for France if his appeal failed.

Some politicians had asked for Chalureau to be withdrawn from France’s World Cup squad due to the incident.

The decision is set to be announced less than three weeks before France’s next game, when they start the 2024 Six Nations against Ireland on February 2 in Marseille.

AFP

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