France Cricket (FC) – the association that promotes the sport in the country – is facing allegations of turning a blind eye to ‘fake’ women’s matches.
It allegedly obtained subsidies from cricket’s international governing body, the ICC, by reporting phantom matches.
‘I saw picnics and kids cycling but no matches’
An investigation by French public service TV channel France 24 claimed to find results in the women’s second division that were fabricated and had been rubber stamped by FC.
ICC funding is linked to the development of women’s and junior cricket. It gave FC €320,000 out of a total €520,000 budget for 2022.
Former France international player Tracy Rodriguez, who was elected to FC’s board in 2021 but left this year, was involved in the investigation.
She said she had visited grounds where matches were supposedly taking place.
“I saw people having picnics and kids cycling around at the time of the game, but there were no matches. Then the next day the results were appearing online,” she said.
Asked where the ICC money was going, she said: “I’ve no idea. When I asked to see the accounts I was pressured not to ‘be nosy’.
Ms Rodriguez, who plays for Lisses CC in the Ile-de-France, said: “The vision being portrayed to the outside world is fake, to gain FC more money and clubs like ours [first division] don’t see any of it.”
‘Difficult to assemble a women’s team so clubs pretend’
In 2021, FC ruled that clubs had to have a junior and female team if they wanted a men’s team to play in the top leagues.
Clubs can be fined if they fail to fulfil fixtures and there were €20,000 in fines in the first year of the rule but the next season that dropped to €5,000.
A coach with men’s fourth division team Vipères de Valenciennes, James Worstead, told France 24 it can be difficult to assemble a female team so many clubs “pretend” to have one.
Former international player Sabine Lieury, President of Nantes Cricket Club, told The Connexion: “I’ve often wondered why the team that won the Division 2 title never made it up to Division 1 the following year and why none of the players from those teams or their under 16s players ever join any of the top division clubs.”
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FC chairman denies allegations
The French national team reached the European World Cup Qualifiers in Spain in September, but lost its matches.
Ms Lieury blamed a lack of players coming through the system. She said there are also funding difficulties. Her own team, Les Duchesses in Nantes, gets nothing from FC, she said.
FC chairman Prebagarane Balane told a cricket website the allegations are “baseless”, but FC would not comment to us until it has prepared a legal response to France 24.
The ICC told Sky Sports it was investigating. We have asked for confirmation of this.