Q: In what state of mind are you 218 days from the World Cup?

A: "There is a lot of excitement: we are entering the organizational phase. All the indicators are rather green, everything is under control. We had this board meeting where we presented our budget review today, culmination of several months of very in-depth work."

Q: What comes out of this board?

A: "First of all, it should be emphasized that the World Cup will be profitable. The financial result is secure. Our reference is the 2015 World Cup in England, where the contexts are quite similar, even 2007 in France. In both cases, we were around 36 million euros in profit. We have consolidated all the elements, all the legal entities: this leads us to present a consolidated result between 45 and 50 million euros. We will be above his best in terms of financial result. He will be redistributed to French rugby."

Q: How do you plan to help French rugby?

A: "Organizing a World Cup is not just about organizing forty-eight matches, hosting twenty teams, welcoming 600,000 foreign visitors... We want to reflect on our purpose. How can we contribute -modestly- to solve the current problems of society? We have identified four major areas in which we want to engage: the sustainable and circular economy; training, employment and education; environmental protection; inclusion and the fight against discrimination. We also want to build a budget that will take care of these societal challenges."

Q: 45 or 50 million, are we far from the initial promises?

A: "There is a figure that has been circulated, around 65 million, but it dates from the submission of the application file. We have a particular temporality: you start seven years before but 69% of the expenses arrive in the last year. We have had to update the figures: the initial budget did not include the apprentice training center, the economic interest group or the endowment fund (...) The budget, in total, is around 800 million in revenue. "

Q: Has inflation been taken into account?

A: "We have identified revenue opportunities, mainly on ticketing and sponsors. We have identified 17 million in additional revenue. We have all our sponsors. Two French partners will be announced soon. On expenses, we have well looked at, we have taken inflation into account, around 7 million more, we have properly reframed personnel expenditure, around 10 million. We have no taboo to say that, in certain professions, it is worth better to seek externally because the skills are there (…) The priority is to secure the preparation, the delivery of the tournament to the best standards.

Q: What about the ecological issue?

A: "A major sporting event like the World Cup must demonstrate that we can contribute to the protection of the environment. First, by trying to reduce our CO2 emissions. We are going to welcome 600,000 foreign visitors, this will not be neutral. We have calculated these carbon emissions at around 300,000 tonnes of CO2. We are going to engage in carbon absorption programs."

Q: Aren't you afraid that the recent affairs around Claude Atcher, Sébastien Chabal, or Bernard Laporte will have a negative impact?

A: "These are matters that concern the past. These cases were seven months ago. The World Cup is in seven months. Today, we look to the future and we try not to looking back too much. It's exceptional, what we're doing! There are so many beautiful positive projects, that's what we want to tell. It's something exceptional! Our job, it's is to manufacture sporting emotion!"

Interview by Déborah CLAUDE and Nicholas Mc ANALLY

© 2023 AFP