France will be able to participate in the men’s water polo tournament at Rio 2016 after the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Executive decided no action would be taken against them following allegations they threw their match with Canada at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
An investigation into the matter was launched by FINA after David Hart, a former member of Canada's water polo team, contacted them and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the incident.
He began an online petition demanding France be punished, following their 13-5 defeat at the hands of Canada on April 7 at the tournament in Trieste in Italy, which is claimed to have given them a more favourable route to the semi-finals of the tournament.
It was alleged that France wanted to avoid a tie against Spain, who the Canadian team eventually lost 8-7 to in the quarter-finals, while they overcame The Netherlands 4-3 on penalties to earn the final berth at the Games.
At last week’s SportAccord Convention, FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu, admitted he has “never seen something like that” and suggested the qualification place may be offered to the Dutch team if France are disqualified.
Following discussions with their Technical Water Polo Committee and the chairpersons of the Disciplinary Panel and Ethics Panel, FINA have stated that the case has now been closed and that the French team would face no action.
French National Olympic Committee (CNSOF) President Denis Masseglia had played down talk of the team being sanctioned here earlier today at their 100 days to go to Rio 2016 celebration.
Masseglia believed that it would have been difficult for a judgement to be made on the effort of the French team in the match against Canada and is confident they will avoid punishment.
“I think it is difficult to express such a judgement and I think also that if they athletes had the capacity to win, they would use that capacity to win,” Masseglia said.
“The athletes had the match of their life on the Friday (April 8) and it is coincidence or not that they keep a lot of force to express the maximum of their capacity for a match of history, it is normal.
“There are a lot of examples in the past of when an athlete gives the maximum on the day they have a big challenge, such as the quarter-final with The Netherlands.
“However, they did not choose who they would have to beat, it is hard to imagine.
“You can keep a lot of force to be at the maximum of capacity for the match that counts, the next match.”
FINA’s own website had fuelled the concerns over suspected match-fixing, after they reported France were not bothered about winning the game.
France will join Hungary, Italy and Spain in reaching to Rio 2016 through the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.