Biarritz has validated its return to the Top 14 thanks to a Basque derby won against Bayonne this Saturday in Aguiléra. A match accompanied by a controversy due to the number of spectators present in the stands despite the health restrictions. Questioned by The Indian Paper on Monday, Jean-Baptiste Aldigé, the president of the BO, denies any infringement.
After seven years of absence, Biarritz Olympique landed its ticket for the Top 14 after a suspenseful derby and concluded on penalties against Bayonne (6-6, 6 tab to 5).
A meeting which also gave rise to a lively controversy due to potential breaches of health restrictions linked to Covid-19. At the microphone of The Indian Paper this Monday morning, Jean-Baptiste Aldigé maintained his position, already presented this Sunday for RMC Sport, and that of the BO against criticism.
Aldigé: “We are in Biarritz, we are not at the Stade de France”
The first point of tension between the president of the Basque club and the public authorities concerns the respect of the gauge of 5,000 spectators in the stands of Aguiléra for the duel against Rowing.
“I did not respond to the press this weekend because I did not have the technical means to do so. This Monday morning we met with the services. According to the files, we sold 5,000 places. We stopped at 5,000 places, explained Jean-Baptiste Aldigé firmly. Regarding the control of the number of people on site, we had a problem. We realized this morning that the beepers supposed to check the tickets fell in breakdown due to the dilapidated state of the stadium. “
Despite these technical concerns, the leader assures him: we are far from the figures fantasized by the supposed detractors of his club.
“For the rest I heard a lot of estimates. It is estimated that there are many more (of spectators, editor’s note). It is estimated that there were 6,000, 7,000 or 8,000 people. We are in Biarritz, we is not at the Stade de France. It’s very small, it’s a small stadium with only 6,800 real seats of capacity. We can see on the images that it was not full, continued Aldigé at the microphone of The Indian Paper. With the technical staff and the press I imagine there were maybe a little over 5,000 but nothing in the proportions that I could read and hear. “
The president of the BO then defended the work of his club to limit the risks of the spread of the coronavirus despite the invasion of the field after the victory in Biarritz. On the one hand, all spectators had presented a health pass to attend the Basque derby, he says. On the other hand, Jean-Baptiste Aldigé recalled the difficulties to prevent this invasion. According to him, “it would not have been very Covid” to add 1,000 more people to ensure security.
The question of the sale of alcohol
Another point is causing controversy around this match between Biarritz and Bayonne: the sale of alcohol in Aguiléra despite prefectural measures prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on public roads from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday in several municipalities in the Basque Country.
“We had an authorization for a refreshment bar with the seats, confirmed the president of the BO. Just as there was a fan-zone on the Bayonne side in the city center where there was an authorization for alcohol belly on condition that people be seated. We had set up the benches and tables necessary for a seated drink. After that I have not yet heard back what happened in the stands since the refreshments were closed during the match by the prefecture. “
Aldigé sends a new spike to the authorities
Confirming willingly “to be a little overwhelmed by the emerging controversy at the national level”, Jean-Baptiste Aldigé also took the opportunity to give a layer on the sub-prefect of Pyrénées-Atlantiques about possible tickets offered on a personal basis.
“I do not have a relationship with the prefect for the moment but I hope to have a constructive one afterwards. But I confirm that there were 5,000 places sold by the League and by ourselves plus the officials and politicians, a still esteemed the Basque leader. The mayor of Biarritz was at my side, and all these people did not buy places. It is part of the protocol. The sub-prefect was in basket with me and no one ever pays in Presidential basket. When I invite in basket, I do not charge the seats. “