Former Nice coach Christophe Galtier argued via his attorneys on Friday that the inquiry into charges of harassment and discrimination leveled against him lacked “impartiality,” as prosecutors asked for a one-year suspended prison sentence.
The 57-year-old is in court in Nice for allegedly making remarks against Ramadan and Muslim athletes.
Investigators should have confronted Nice director Julien Fournier and heard from club captain Dante and its medical team, according to the coach’s lawyers.
“We are talking about harassment at all levels, and we have not heard from the captain of the team, Dante, a player who made 300 matches with OGC Nice, because it is Julien Fournier who decides,” said Sebastien Schapira in a press conference on Friday.
“The investigators do not understand football, and Julien Fournier has duped them,” Galtier’s lawyer continued.
The scandal erupted in April after a leaked email allegedly from Fournier was sent to Dave Brailsford, the former head of British Cycling and currently director of sport at Ineos, the owners of Nice.
The email accused Galtier of making disparaging statements against a segment of the Nice team.
Damien Martinelli, the public prosecutor in Nice, asked for a one-year suspended prison term and a fine of 45,000 euros ($49,000).
Fournier describes a chat he had with the coach in one section of the email, after Galtier had been approached by Nice fans in a restaurant the night before and allegedly claimed that there were “too many Muslims and blacks” at the club.
In another section of the email, the director describes an event during Ramadan in 2022, in which Galtier is accused of continually saying that there were too many Muslims at the club and requesting that they be transferred.
Galtier “clearly sought to reduce the number of black people and Muslims on the team,” according to prosecutor Martinelli.
“Ramadan is a given for a professional club. “It’s a problem for Christophe Galtier,” Martinelli told the court.
Galtier is accused of referring to an opposition defender as “King Kong” in another section of the email.
The former PSG coach confirmed as much, but stated that the term simply signifies “power and strength” to him.
When the charges originally surfaced in April, Galtier issued a complete denial and promised to defend himself in court.
“I was brought up on a state housing estate and in a multicultural environment with shared values and respect for other people, whatever their origins, colour or religion,” Galtier told the newspaper.
“I refuse to have my name tarnished in this way.” As a result, I’ve resolved to take legal action against anyone who attempts to harm my reputation.”
Galtier left PSG in June but returned to management four months later when Al Duhail of Qatar hired him.