Targeted by an investigation since June 2020 after the complaint of a 13-year-old teenager, Bruno Martini, 52, was arrested on Monday in Paris and placed in police custody, a source familiar with the matter added, confirming information from France Info. Questioned by AFP, the Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed that the former athlete had been referred Tuesday evening for a “probable appearance for prior admission of guilt and recording of child pornography images”, after the lifting of his custody at view. He should be presented Wednesday to a magistrate, who should offer him an appearance for prior recognition of guilt.
At this stage, the investigators have not known of other victims, apart from the 13-year-old teenager, a source familiar with the matter added.
A leadership career
Bruno Martini, a colossus of 1.97 m, was the goalkeeper of the Blues, world champions in 1995, the first major title in French handball, launching the golden era of the crazy band of “Barjots”. Again world champion in 2001, his rich career as a player led him to the biggest French European clubs, from OM-Vitrolles to Montpellier with whom he won the Champions League in 2003, then Paris.
He then turned to a career in management. At the head of a group of investors, he bought Paris Handball in 2010, of which he became general manager. It remains so when, two years later, the club is bought by the Qatar Sports Authority, already owner of PSG. The club becomes PSG Handball and dominates French handball, winning nine of the last ten French championships.
Bruno Martini leaves his post at the beginning of 2021 and announces in the wake of joining one of the biggest esports teams, the Vitality team, as general manager. He left it when he was elected president of the League in November 2022. “My projects are visibility, economic development and positioning”, he argued at the time: “You have to carry the right values”.
A new legal problem for the leaders of French sport
The investigation targeting Bruno Martini is the latest in a long series of legal troubles targeting French sports leaders. Among the most resounding, Bernard Laporte, the president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), was sentenced at first instance in December to a two-year suspended prison sentence for having entered into a corruption pact with the businessman and president of the Montpellier club, Mohed Altrad. He appealed against this judgment and withdrew, under pressure from the Ministry of Sports and the Ethics Committee of the FFR.
He was again taken into custody on Tuesday in an aggravated tax fraud laundering case, but has emerged without prosecution at this stage. As for Noël Le Graet, the all-powerful boss of the French Football Federation (FFF), he is the subject of an investigation for moral and sexual harassment and was forced to withdraw during an extraordinary Executive Committee.