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Porn sponsor slammed by French rugby, sanctions threatened

France’s national rugby body has slammed second-division Carcassonne for signing a new partnership with porn site Jacquie & Michel.

Carcassone, which competes in France’s Pro D2 league, inked a one-match deal with Jacquie & Michel ahead of its home clash with Biarritz on 1 March.

Ticket sales at Carcassonne have reportedly gone up since the partnership was announced last week, but France’s Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) has called for the partnership to be scrapped, and has threatened sanctions against the club if it does not comply.

Speaking to SportBusiness Sponsorship, Thomas Otton, head of communications at LNR, said Carcassonne has committed a clear and obvious breach of the LNR’s partnership guidelines.

“We have a set of rules that are dictated to the clubs, and in those rules it clearly states that the LNR does not allow any statements or any partnerships of a religious or political nature, or any partnerships that are contrary to the good morals of our sport – and obviously pornography falls into that category.”

Otton added that French rugby is a family sport, and all clubs are obliged to respect and uphold the LNR’s family values in their partnership deals.

“We all know the rugby audience is a family-oriented one,” said Otton. “We have kids, parents and whole families that come to watch the matches together, so, of course, we cannot allow the clubs to promote porn sites at their stadiums.”

When asked how the partnership would be visible at the game against Biarritz, Otton said Carcassonne had planned to make t-shirts bearing the name and logo of Jacquie & Michel.

The LNR has issued Carcassonne a formal warning asking it terminate the parntership, and although the case is unprecedented in French rugby history, Otton said financial penalties are likely if the club fails to comply.

“We don’t want to over-promote or give this partnership any more publicity, so for now they have been given a warning, and they must remove everything related to this partnership.

“But if there is any sign, any link or any visibility of this partnership at the stadium against Biarritz, then the LNR will launch a disciplinary commission.”

Otton said the LNR’s partnership guidelines state that clubs must inform the body before launching a potentially controversial association, but in this case, Carcassone failed to do so.

Instead, Otton said the LNR only heard about the partnership after it went viral on social media.