Christophe Galtier was cleared of accusations of racism on Thursday after the former Nice and Paris Saint-Germain coach stood trial on charges of psychological harassment and discrimination.
Galtier was acquitted, French media reported, at a court in Nice nearly a week after he appeared at a one-day trial and denied accusations of racism during his time as coach of Nice from 2021-22.
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The “odious accusations” caused “considerable damage” to the 57-year-old Galtier, one of his attorneys said.
“We see today’s decision as an acquittal but also as a redemption for Christophe, his loved ones and his family,” lawyer Olivier Martin told reporters in comments filmed by Nice-Matin newspaper.
Galtier, who now coaches Al Duhail in the Qatar Stars League, had testified that some of his comments made during his time in charge of Nice had been taken out of context or distorted and used against him by other coaching staff members at Nice.
“We managed to prove the manipulation that was in place and the instrumentalization that was created out of certain situations and comments,” Martin said Thursday, praising the justice system for doing its job in an era of constant social network speculation. “[Justice] isn’t reached in late-night talk shows or on YouTube by incompetent pseudo-journalists.”
Galtier’s other lawyer, Sébastien Schapira, said that the case against Galtier was “empty and therefore there was no reason to condemn” him.
After one season at Nice, Galtier left and joined PSG.
Earlier this year, RMC Sport and other French media published reports quoting a leaked email from former Nice director of football Julien Fournier to the club’s owners. It accused Galtier of saying there were too many Black and Muslim players in the squad. During his tenure at Nice, Galtier also allegedly said players should break their fast during Ramadan.
These allegations led to a preliminary investigation by Nice prosecutor Xavier Bonhomme into “discrimination on the grounds of alleged race or religion” and searches of the Nice headquarters.
Former Nantes, Lens and PSG coach Antoine Kombouaré, who is Black, publicly supported Galtier when the allegations emerged. Other coaches also defended Galtier.
If found guilty, Galtier risked a maximum sentence of three years in jail and a fine of €45,000 ($49,000).