French third-tier coach allegedly threatened 'to hurt' reporter after defeat

A police complaint has been made against Laval coach Francois Ciccolini after he allegedly threatened to beat up a journalist.

Martin Cotta, a reporter for France Bleu Mayenne radio, made the complaint on Monday following an angry response from Ciccolini in the wake of Laval's 2-0 defeat against Boulogne in the third-division game three days earlier.

"You ask me bad questions. I'm going to hurt you. Perhaps I'm going to hit your head on the ground. Have you ever seen a journalist with a plaster on his head?" Ciccolini is alleged to have replied after Cotta had asked about his tactical choices for the match.

"I'm gobsmacked," Thierry Ruffat, the chief editor of France Bleu Mayenne, told Ouest France. "After 36 years of following the club, it's a first for the Stade Lavallois."

Ouest France reported that Cotta asked Ciccolini: "What was the problem? Was it technique? Was it the weather? Or did you make a mistake in the way you set up your team?"

Laval responded in a statement and claimed Cotta had not followed media guidelines, insisting the interview had taken place "in a simple corridor next to the dressing rooms."

"One of the questions was about the choice of players for the game," the statement said. "The question was taken as an act of direct aggression and defiance to the professionalism of all the staff, the players at the match and the players who had not been selected and who had stayed in Laval.

"All our players work hard on a daily basis to earn their place. Francois Ciccolini and his staff aim to bring the best out of our squad of players. He has the responsibility to choose the men who defend our colours with passion. As a result, the coach took the questions very badly. He is the guarantor of the squad's values. He made that known laconically."

The statement said the club would welcome Cotta for a meeting to discuss the matter.