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How France balances the right of free speech against obligations owed to an employer - The Gus Poyet case

Football player and press conference
Wednesday, 28 November 2018 By Christophe Bertrand

In France, recent events have illustrated the possible excesses of athletes/coaches when they are interviewed by the media. The case concerns the coach of the Girondins de Bordeaux Football Club, Gustavo Poyet. In August 2018, during a press conference following a Europa League Championship match, Gus Poyet made direct criticisms1 of the club's management regarding the sale of one of their players, Gaetan Laborde, against his will. Poyet even went as far as mentionning his possible resignation during the quite extraordinary interview:

It is a shame that they did this against me, against the players, against the fans. I can't accept that. I need explanations from the owners and the president. When they explain this to me, we'll see if I can keep going. I don't care about the Bordeaux leaders who talk from behind, they try to kill me from behind. It is up to them to talk with you.2

In light of the events, this piece examines the balance that France strikes between an individual’s right to free speech, and the simultaneous duties that they owe to their employer.

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Written by

Christophe Bertrand

Christophe Bertrand

Partner, Bertrand & Associates

Christophe has been a sports lawyer since 1998 in Paris (France) at Bertrand & Associate law firm (partner).

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