UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING – The case of Bruno Martini, the former world handball champion convicted of corrupting a minor

Bruno Martini, a former goalkeeper and two-time world champion with France, was sentenced on Wednesday to a one-year suspended prison sentence for bribing a minor and recording child pornography images. In the process, he resigned as president of the National Handball League.

• Who is Bruno Martini?

Sentenced this Wednesday to a one-year suspended prison sentence and a 2,500 euro fine for bribing a minor and recording child pornography, Bruno Martini is a former French international handball player, one of the most capped players with 202 selections on the clock . . He was the goalkeeper of the Blues when they won the world title in 1995, the first major French hand title achieved by the band “Barjots”, opening a golden era with a new world title in 2001. His rich playing career has led in major French and European clubs: from OM Vitrolles to Paris via Montpellier, with whom he won the prestigious Champions League in 2003. He retired in 2007 before leaving briefly in 2009 to work as a freelancer in Kiel, Germany. He then embarked on a career as a manager, occupying in particular the position of general manager of Paris Handball and then of the Vitality team, one of the largest formations in eSports. In November 2021, he was elected president of the National Handball League (NHL).

• Why was he convicted?

He was first arrested and placed in police custody on Monday before being taken before a Paris court on Tuesday evening, then released for a prior guilty plea (CRPC) appearance on how to “plead guilty”. This Wednesday, he was therefore given a one-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 2,500 euros for bribing a minor and recording child pornography images. This sanction was approved earlier in the afternoon by a Paris court judge after the CRPC. It also includes a five-year ban on engaging in any activity involving contact with minors. “Mr. Martini acknowledges the facts, assumes them and regrets them. Without wishing to downplay the facts which are obviously reprehensible and moreover Mr. Martini has been convicted, I would simply like to emphasize the fact that Mr. Martini is not a monster,” he is not a pedophile, he’s not that kind of guy. I want proof of this from the fact that he has been the subject of a CRPC, ”he reacted his lawyer Me Elie Dottelonde with RMC Sport.

• How was the survey conducted?

The case began with the complaint of a 13-year-old teenager filed in the summer of 2020. It was on the social network Snapchat that Bruno Martini allegedly found the teenager. The boy explained the whole exchange in front of the investigators of the Brigade for the protection of minors. According to information from RMC Sport, he indicated that selfies and images of a sexual nature were exchanged with an account whose name was “Dad”. Behind this nickname, Bruno Martini. The ex-footballer defended himself before the investigators: for him, seeing the photos of the boy, he thought he was over 15 years old. As to the merits of the case, there was no physical encounter between Bruno Martini and the 13-year-old teenager who filed a complaint against him. The little boy got along well with the former goalkeeper but in the end he gave up going up. Bruno Martini paid for the taxi to take him home. On the other hand, there have indeed been exchanges of intimate photos, hence the crime of recording child pornography images withheld by the prosecution.

• What are the consequences for French handball?

Shortly after his conviction, Bruno Martini resigned as NHL president. Even before the judicial outcome, the leaders of the League had asked for a quick resignation, saying they were otherwise ready to “return the mandate to lead to the organization of new elections and the end of the president’s functions”. “FFHandball learned today, with amazement, of the very serious facts contested against Bruno Martini, president of the National Handball League, which he seems to recognize, and which have no place in sport. (…) In line with its zero tolerance policy which it has been advocating for several years in this matter, the FFHandball reaffirms its determination to fight against all forms of violence and wishes to recall that it severely condemns such acts, when they are established and regardless of the person involved the federation said, announcing it would hold an elective general meeting on March 7.

• What are the other reactions?

The French hand woke up in shock on Wednesday as France are currently playing the World Cup in Poland. The Blues also face Germany this Wednesday in Gdansk in the quarter-finals (20:30). The Bruno Martini affair was obviously encountered in all the pre-match conversations, even if France did not want to make any statements. “There’s a quarter-final to prepare for”, we simply said to each other during training for the Azzurri. Many of them have joined him during his career as a player but also that of general manager of handball at PSG, such as the coach of the French team Guillaume Gille and Nikola Karabatic. “I pay tribute to the rapid, clear and responsible reaction of the NHL in relation to FFHandball. This resignation was necessary. The government’s commitment against violence against children is total, in sport and everywhere”, reacted the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, while PSG Handball, where Bruno Martini evolved as a player, then general manager, was unaware of the affair before this Wednesday.

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