The former coach of OGC Nice is indicted by the courts, suspected of discriminatory remarks and harassment towards several players from his former club.

Christophe Galtier will be tried in ten days, on December 15, for discrimination and moral harassment. The former PSG coach (2022-2023), now on the bench of the Al-Duhail club in Qatar, risks a heavy sentence if he is found guilty. The facts in question all date from his time at OGC Nice, during the 2021-2022 season. A long investigation by our colleagues from L’Equipe reveals valuable elements as the trial approaches.

It all started in March 2023, when independent journalist Romain Molina and RMC Sport revealed the content of an email sent by Julien Fournier, then director of football at OGC Nice, to Dave Brailsford, owner of the club. Julien Fournier recounts a discussion that allegedly took place during a meeting in his office the previous summer: Christophe Galtier allegedly claimed that there were too many “Blacks and Muslims” among the players. Fournier describes: “He said to me, ‘last night I went to the restaurant and everyone came at me saying we have a black team’ […] There was no argument sportsman but only religious arguments or skin color.”

Following the revelation of this email, which Julien Fournier denies having himself transmitted to the press, the Nice prosecutor’s office decided to open, without prior complaint, a preliminary investigation for discrimination. Searches took place in the premises of the Nice club, which proved generally unsuccessful. The people present at the club at the time of the events were questioned, and the testimonies are contrasting, but enlightening. Jean-Pierre Rivère, the president of OGC Nice, says he does not remember the meeting mentioned in Julien Fournier’s email, although he was present there. Khéphren Thuram told the police that he had not witnessed any discrimination, like Youcef Atal. Burak Yilmaz publicly supported his former coach via a post on Instagram, explaining that he “never felt the slightest negative behavior from him regarding [his] religion”.

Frédéric Gioria, legend of the club and assistant coach of the Gym, recounts for his part a real annoyance of Christophe Galtier when he learned of the recruitment of Billal Brahimi, Franco-Algerian player, in the winter of 2022. He would have said: “Another one Muslim, I don’t want it, we’ve had enough.” Hachim Ali Mbaé, video analyst for OGC Nice at the time and now for RC Strasbourg, also claims to have witnessed inappropriate comments. Galtier would have nicknamed, at half-time of a match against Saint-Etienne, the central defenders of the Greens Harold Moukoudi and Mickaël Nadé, the “two King Kongs”. Several Muslim players who worked with the Marseille coach reported pressure linked to their religion, in particular not to fast during Ramadan: Jean-Clair Todibo, Hicham Boudaoui and Pablo Rosario. Teddy Boulhendi also says he was described as a “Salafist” by his former coach, and Hassane Kamara as “scum”.

Julien Fournier himself says that, when he offered him the profile of Turkish defender Ozan Kabak during a meeting at the end of March 2022, Christophe Galtier would have replied: “Julien, you still don’t understand. I don’t want more blacks or Arabs.” The former LOSC coach would also have been upset when he learned that Didier Digard, coach of the reserve team, was Muslim, deeming this “not normal”, again according to the testimony of the former Nice football director. Digard, after hearing of these comments from Frédéric Gioria, would have resigned immediately, before being convinced to stay by Julien Fournier.

Christophe Galtier’s entourage and himself denounce a “settling of scores”, and a “will to harm” by Julien Fournier. The coach denies any inappropriate remarks, and any discrimination against Muslim players practicing Ramadan. His lawyers, contacted by L’Equipe, declare: “Christophe Galtier is determined 10 days before this hearing. He reserves his statements for the court. He is finally awaiting this public and contradictory debate where he will demonstrate that he has obviously never discriminated or harassed anyone. His entire professional career, his reputation testify to his impeccable personality.”

In June 2023, the Nice prosecutor’s office finally decided to summon Christophe Galtier to appear in a trial for “moral harassment” and “discrimination on the grounds of belonging or not belonging, true or supposed, to an ethnic group, a nation, a so-called race or a specific religion.” The former PSG coach faces three years in prison and a 45,000 euro fine. For his part, Christophe Galtier filed a complaint with the Paris prosecutor for defamation and risk caused to others against Julien Fournier, as well as Romain Molina and Daniel Riolo, the journalists who revealed the email which provoked the investigation. Christophe Galtier also filed a complaint against X for harassment and death threats, having received numerous hostile messages after his phone number was leaked on social networks.