French Tennis Federation, president’s home raided amid corruption allegations

The French Tennis Federation’s (FFT) headquarters and the home of its president Jean Gachassin have been raided as part of an investigation into alleged corruption and embezzlement surrounding ticket sales for the French Open and the redevelopment of Roland Garros, the home of the grand slam tournament.

France’s financial prosecution service said Tuesday’s raids were linked to the alleged illegal sale of tickets for the French Open and the “conditions of awarding of the contract for the extension of the Roland Garros stadium”. A travel agency in Tarbes, southern France, was also searched.

The FFT confirmed that its offices had been searched, adding that it was fully cooperating with authorities. The Federation’s lawyer, Eric Andrieu, told the AFP news agency: “The Federation has done important work over the past 10 years to limit trafficking of tickets and the black market.”

In February a French satirical newspaper, Le Canard Enchaine, published an article alleging Gachassin had sold French Open tickets at face value to a travel agent friend who had then sold them on at five times their original price. France's sports ministry launched an investigation into the matter in September 2015.

The latest developments continue a period of upheaval for the FFT. In February, Jérémy Botton was confirmed as its permanent director general while Guy Forget was unveiled as the new director of the French Open. Botton had been serving in the role on a caretaker basis since the FFT ousted Gilbert Ysern from the role earlier in the month.

Botton, who was deputy chief executive of the FFT from 2009 to the start of February, will spearhead the long-awaited redevelopment of Roland Garros. Under the plans, a retractable roof will be added to the centre court at Roland Garros, Court Philippe Chatrier, while the cramped 8.5-hectare site will be expanded to 12.5 hectares by swallowing up one hectare that is currently part of the neighbouring Serres d'Auteuil botanical garden.

The cost of the expansion has been projected to be between €350m ($402.9m) and €400m – much more than the original €273m budget. The FFT, which has been behind the project, has been locked in a decade-long battle with residents living close to the tournament’s Parisian home over proposals to expand facilities at the site.