French press review 27 September 2012
A sports scandal is making this morning's French front pages. ... and it has nothing to do with drugs or cycling. Plus there's more grim unemployment news, although there don't seem to be many takers for the new teachers' jobs created by the government.
Nothing less sacred than the game of handball is under suspicion and you'll know that the French are the current Olympic, World, Galactic and Universal champions and have, with a few minor setbacks, more or less ruled the rough-and-tumble world of handball since the end of the last Ice Age.
In France, Montpellier are the national champions, a title they've monopolised for 11 of the last 13 seasons. The club is home to Olympic hero brothers Luca and Nikola Karabatic. And they might be in big trouble!
The facts go back to 12 May last, the day when Montpellier, already assured of winning the national championship, took on lowly Rennes.
Montpellier were odds-on favourites to win, meaning that you were wasting your money betting for them. But since Rennes didn't have a handball's hope in Hell, you could make some serious cash if you bet against Montpellier, provided Rennes upset the form book and went on to win.
Guess what? Rennes did just that, beating the French champions and their Olympic megastars by 31 points to 28.
Well, according to Aujourd'hui en France, instead of the normal betting total of between 3,000 and 5,000 euros on a Division One handball match, this particular confrontation attracted a total of 90,000 euros, every last cent of it placed by persons convinced that Rennes would beat Montpellier.
When that happened, by 31 points to 28, you'll remember, the 90,000 euros hazarded, if that's the appropriate term, turned into a profit of 300,000 euros for some lucky, if that's the appropriate term, individual or individuals.
Now the police are examining the bank accounts of several Montpellier players, suspecting that the lads might have bet against themselves and then made sure that they lost.
The match referee says he didn't notice anything fishy.
Otherwise, this morning's front pages are dominated by bad news on the employment front, with business daily Les Echos lamenting the fact that there are now more than three million French people on the dole.
That represents an increase of 100,000 in the past three months and there are lots of what managers politely call "structural reorganisations" to fear in the near future, each with a sad tally of new job losses.
Left-leaning Libération looks at government plans to turn that tide of unemployment, however marginally, by recruiting 40,000 new teachers.
The problem is that, at 1,600 euros per month the average French primary teacher is not highly paid for a job that makes platinum mining in South Africa look like a drinks party by the pool.
Not too surprisingly, not too many people are interested.