Nimes president stands down over match-fixing charges

Nimes president Jean-Marc Conrad has stood down and Caen counterpart Jean-Francois Fortin has taken a leave of absence in order to fight match-fixing charges.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel announced on Tuesday that arrests had been made over alleged corruption in Ligue 2 last season.

No clubs or individuals were officially named in connection with the allegations, but Conrad has now announced his departure from Nimes -- though he denies any involvement in match-fixing.

"I have taken the decision to stand down from my position as president of Nimes Olympique,'' Conrad said in a statement released to French media through his lawyer.

"This decision, which I was not forced to take, is purely intended to protect the interests of my club.

"From now on, I will dedicate all my strength and energy on defending myself against these accusations that are as unfair as they are unfounded.

"[I have] never, in any way, tried to influence the sincerity of a match.''

The 1-1 draw between Caen and Nimes on May 13, which virtually assured both Caen's promotion and Nimes' Ligue 2 survival, was widely reported to be under investigation.

The game was postponed from March 14 after Nimes' plane was unable to reach Caen on time, and was eventually played on the Tuesday before the final round of fixtures on Friday, May 16.

Fortin released a statement on Thursday night saying he was "suspending'' his role with the club. The club have pledged their support to both Fortin and security chief Kaddour Mokkedel while the investigation is ongoing.

In a letter to club director general Xavier Gravelaine, reproduced on the club's website, Fortin wrote: "Noting my indictment in a case whose investigation will show my innocence, I suspend my duties as president of Stade Malherbe Caen, which will allow me to devote myself fully to my defence and protect the proper functioning of the club.''

A club statement on Friday added: "The members of the board offer their support, unreservedly, to president Jean-Francois Fortin and the employee of Stade Malherbe Caen, Kaddour Mokeddel.''

LFP president Frederic Thiriez announced on Tuesday morning that arrests had been made and vowed to take action if any of the suspicions proved to be correct.

"I confirm to you that searches were carried out and several people taken into custody yesterday and this morning by the SCCJ [France's police taskforce for racing and gambling] over suspicions of rigging of matches in Ligue 2 during last season,'' he said in a statement on www.lfp.fr.

"I hope the police and courts shed light on this affair. If the facts of corruption, fraud, rigging or even tentative efforts are proved, the LFP will take disciplinary or administrative action, individual or collective, which will be in the strongest possible form.''