Athletes show their support for
Drawn to the project and its values, and excited to see France host this event, these major champions from a range of disciplines have already joined the top athletes support committee.
Cathy Arnaud is a French judoka. She competes in the women’s lightweight event and is 2 times world champion, 4 times European champion and 4 times French champion. She holds the role of national federal technical advisor with special responsibility for developing judo in Aquitaine.
“Hosting the Rugby League World Cup in France is a wonderful idea. Hand on heart, I can say that I'm certain our French teams have the potential to truly shine in 2025. I wish them all the very best in their matches and, to all of us, a great World Cup - in France!”
Since joining the French national handball team at the age of 19 and helping the team become world champions and gold medallists at the summer Olympics in Japan (played in 2021), the goalkeeper for Brest Bretagne Handball has become an important role model for women in sport. As a spokeswoman, she promotes equal media treatment and maternity leave during women’s sporting careers.
“Having experienced them myself, I know that the emotions stirred by major international sporting events are incomparable. And we all need to be able to experience them, whoever you are! Women’s sport is both an act of personal fulfilment and a springboard for young women everywhere. That’s why I see so much of myself in this magnificent project to host the 2025 Rugby League World Cup in France.”
Europe first discovered Yohann Diniz in August 2006 when he won the gold medal for the 50 km walking race in a rainy Gutenberg and at the end of a final that changed the history of the discipline. A world and European champion multiple times and the world record holder of the 50 km walking race on and off road, he is also a spokesman for the La Poste in favour of occupational health and safety.
“For me, sport is about sharing, community, cooperation, effort and respect. Values that are meaningful in our society, and we have a duty to our youth to pass on this legacy. Rugby league has a strong history and profound identity. Hosting a World Cup where the women's, men's, youth and wheelchair sports teams will compete at the same time is a massive first that I want to support.”
An international footballer, Christophe Dugarry helped the team become world champion in 1998, European champion in 2000 and win the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001. After training in Bordeaux, he was one of the first players to put French football on the international map when he played in top clubs such as AC Milan and FC Barcelona.
“Sport is about passion and emotion above all else. I have experienced all this in small, medium and, of course, large cities. This is also what I like about the Rugby League World Cup project for 2025: that this event will let you experience these emotions all over the country, whether you are a player, a spectator or simply a resident of a host city.”
Thu Kamkasomphou has taken home 10 Paralympic medals at the last six Olympic Games. She was 2 times Paralympic champion in the singles event in Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008.
She is also world, European and French champion.
“I support France's candidacy because we have the skills to host major sporting events and it would be an exceptional moment for our French teams. Keeping you healthy, bringing people together, surpassing your limits: sport holds a central place in society. So let's believe in it and never give up!”
Former international rugby union and rugby league player, Marc Lièvremont was champion of France in 1998 and world championship runner-up in 1999. As coach for the French rugby union team, he helped them win the Grand Slam in 2010 and win second place in 2011. Now a TV pundit, he is a spokesman for child protection.
“After participating as a player in two World Cups, in the Sevens in 1997 in Hong Kong and in Rugby Union in 1999 in Great Britain, then a third time in 2011 in New Zealand as coach, and even a fourth in 2015 as TV pundit, I know how important major events, especially when played at home, are for sports men and women alike. We want the 2025 World Cup!”
Former rugby union captain of the women’s French national team, Safi N'Diaye was a member of the squad that won three Six Nations title and was six times champions of France. She was the first woman to receive the Oscar Midi Olympique title for the best French player and was also nominated by World Rugby for the title of best female player of the year in 2017 and 2018.
“I'm proud to support this great plan to host the Rugby League World Cup in France because French sport needs this kind of competition on our soil. It doesn't matter which federation organises such an event, we all owe it to ourselves to support such initiatives and inspire young people who are our athletes and champions of tomorrow. Long live sport, long live rugby!”
Former international player and manager, Michel Platini was the first player to receive the annual football award Ballon d’Or three years running. A symbol of French sport worldwide, the last person to carry the torch at the Olympic Games in Albertville and co-organiser of the football World Cup in 1998, Michel Platini needs no introduction.
“I know how important it is for our country to welcome the whole world for big events and big sporting celebrations. So ‘yes’ to the Rugby League World Cup, we want it!"