Accusations of fraudulent matches and financial irregularities cast a shadow over French cricket

Accusations of deception and financial opacity surround France Cricket, the official governing body of cricket in France. Players, clubs, and recent members allege that the organization has misled to secure International Cricket Council (ICC) funds and obscured the utilization of these funds. Against the backdrop of the Cricket World Cup in India, FRANCE 24 delves into these claims.
Mithali Raj, the all-time highest-scoring female cricketer, addressed a glittering event on the Eiffel Tower's first floor, attended by ambassadors, Indian film stars, models, cricketers, and members of France Cricket. The celebration on August 19 marked the Men’s Cricket World Cup trophy's arrival in Paris as part of its global tour leading up to the tournament's commencement on October 5 in Ahmedabad, India. However, beneath the surface of this glamorous occasion lies the controversy surrounding France Cricket, with allegations of mismanagement and fraud, particularly in relation to its purported commitment to women’s cricket and the handling of ICC development funds.
Phantom Matches Unveiled
In a March 2022 statement titled "The Evolution of Women's Sport and Cricket in France," France Cricket claimed that 25% of French cricket players are women, with plans to organize 91 women's matches in the same year. However, an investigation by FRANCE 24, involving insights from those familiar with France Cricket's operations, suggests that these figures are likely significantly inflated.
Former France international cricketer Tracy Rodriguez, a staunch advocate for women's cricket, had long harbored doubts about the authenticity of numerous women's matches, especially in the women’s second-division tournament, comprising nine teams, almost all based in the Paris region. Despite raising concerns during her tenure on the France Cricket Board, Rodriguez's suspicions persisted.
Taking matters into her own hands, Rodriguez visited cricket grounds where women’s games were scheduled. To her surprise, on multiple occasions, she found no evidence of matches being played, only to discover the results posted online the day after. Frustrated by the lack of transparency, Rodriguez resigned from her position on the France Cricket board in February.
To verify the authenticity of matches, FRANCE 24 attended scheduled fixtures. A case in point was the semi-final of the women’s second division at Sarcelles Cricket Ground, where the official fixture listed a game between the Paris Knight Riders and Saint-Omer on September 2. Contrary to expectations, a men’s under-19 semi-final was underway, with no sign of the scheduled women’s match. Despite this, France Cricket later endorsed the match as having occurred and published the results.
In a similar instance, the scheduled final of the women’s second division on September 16 between the Paris Knight Riders and Balbyniens Cricket Club 93 at Dreux did not seem to take place. Once again, France Cricket validated the result three days later.
Notably, there is a lack of photographic evidence of women’s second-division teams on the social media accounts of the involved clubs. Moreover, directors of France Cricket are associated with two of the clubs participating in the supposed final, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest and accountability. Despite attempts to seek clarification, no responses were received from the implicated individuals.
"We Have No Alternatives"
France Cricket board meetings repeatedly reference an "ICC scorecard," the International Cricket Council's tool for assessing development funding allocation to associate member countries. A 2021 ICC presentation disclosed that 60-70% of France Cricket's total budget, around $320,000 out of $520,000 for 2022, comes from the ICC, with nearly half earmarked for women's and juniors’ cricket.
Minutes from a January 10, 2020 board meeting reveal France Cricket's dependence on ICC subsidies and the associated risks. The board acknowledged that a drop in performance could lead to a loss of USD 100,000 annually. The minutes underscored the importance of meeting ICC indicators, emphasizing a focus on recruiting juniors and women.
Despite promising development initiatives outlined in subsequent meeting notes and a 2021-2024 strategy presentation to the ICC, France Cricket implemented a system compelling top-performing clubs to establish their own women's and junior teams, filing results or facing fines or relegation.
James Worstead, coach of men’s fourth-division team Vipères de Valenciennes, reveals the challenges faced by clubs in assembling women's teams, leading some to fabricate results to comply with the system. Honest clubs, he claims, refuse to engage in such practices and face potential obstacles to promotion.
Irma Vrignaud, a former French international player and current France Cricket board member, raises concerns about the lack of transparency regarding women's teams. Despite inquiries, she receives no clear answers, noting that clubs with fake women's teams go unpunished, while honest clubs incur fines for genuine difficulties in fielding a team.
France Cricket's own guidelines impose fines for non-participation or forfeits, ranging from €200 to €1000, significant sums for amateur clubs. In 2021, the year of the women’s and junior teams mandate, income from fines soared to €20,210, decreasing to €5,248 in 2022 when evidence of phantom matches surfaced.
A manager from a top-performing club acknowledges the difficulty in finding female players and expresses the obligation to have a women’s team, stating, "We don’t have a choice." Some clubs, however, demonstrate genuine commitment to cricket development, such as the Lycée Français de Pondichéry Cricket Club à Morangis.
Despite multiple requests for comment, France Cricket has not responded to these allegations, and the association has not faced legal proceedings to date.
Opaque Financial Practices
Former France Cricket CEO Marjorie Guillaume, the author of the press release on the "Evolution of Women's Sport and Cricket in France," reveals that she penned it in the early stages of her tenure, unaware of the true state of affairs at France Cricket.
Guillaume explains that she assumed the role in response to ICC pressure on France Cricket to appoint a CEO. Believing she could bring about positive change, she later realized the purported commitment to change was mere "mise en scène" or stagecraft. According to Guillaume, the organization lacked genuine dedication.
Her primary grievances center around the opaque nature of France Cricket's financial operations. Initially observing "a lot of incoherence" in budget discussions, Guillaume's probing questions led to discomfort among France Cricket officials. In a meeting with the ICC in Birmingham, she was excluded from involvement in the 2022 budget, prompting her to question her role as CEO.
Guillaume alleges that France Cricket spent "hundreds of thousands of euros" on cricket equipment, stored in the organization's basement, which she was prohibited from inspecting. Although FRANCE 24 could not independently verify these claims, they raise concerns about financial transparency.
After a tumultuous year with France Cricket, Guillaume lodged a complaint with the ICC, joining a group of at least five individuals who have reported mismanagement in French cricket. Andrew Wright, overseeing European development at the ICC, refrained from commenting on specific allegations but emphasized the ICC's commitment to ensuring cricket activities within a country adhere to established standards.
The French sports ministry did not respond to requests for comment. With cricket set to become an Olympic sport for the 2028 Los Angeles Games, attaining "high-level" status in France, the national governing body's eligibility for increased public funding may prompt closer scrutiny.
Women’s World Cup Qualification Matches
Despite concerns regarding the management of women's cricket in France, the national team has achieved commendable results. On June 2, they surpassed expectations by defeating Germany, securing a spot in the European World Cup Qualifiers scheduled for Spain in September. Unfortunately, they faced challenges assembling a complete squad for the competition and lost all their matches.

Participation in the women's World Cup Qualifiers demands that nations have a minimum of eight domestic women's teams engaged in at least five hard-ball matches over the preceding two years. Verification revealed only four teams meeting this criterion. In response, the ICC clarified that France's entry into the 2023 Women's T20 World Cup Qualifiers was based on domestic activities from 2021 and 2022, pre-Covid, emphasizing the need for accurate information from member nations.
Unrealized Potential
Five members of the squad who competed in the European World Cup Qualifiers honed their skills at Nantes Cricket Club, one of several clubs outside the Paris region reporting minimal to no support from France Cricket. Sabine Lieury, the club president, expresses concerns that the lack of effort in grassroots cricket development could hinder the sport's growth, noting the absence of funding and assistance when approaching authorities for support.
Pradeep Chalise, founder of Aunis Cricket Club near La Rochelle, sought funding for a practice cricket net to establish a cricket academy for children. Despite an encouraging response from the town hall, France Cricket offered a loan instead of a donation, creating challenges for the small club. Chalise highlights that despite not utilizing their development budget, France Cricket featured images of the academy's children in an ICC strategy presentation, showcasing a commitment to junior development that he believes is not fully realized.
Chalise's disillusionment with France Cricket led him to continue running the club and academy independently, reflecting the experiences of several other cricket clubs across France. Despite the lack of official support, Chalise emphasizes the genuine interest in cricket among the French population, highlighting the untapped potential within the sport.
Valentina Manning

Valentina Manning


A film and TV production professional currently working as an Associate Producer creating short, doc.