Johan Goosen's position at Racing 92 has long since outstripped 'furore', and is now propelling itself into the fabled atmosphere beyond mere 'saga'.
In case you are unaware, Goosen - Player of the Season in last year's Top 14, as he helped guide Racing to the title - announced his decision to retire in December, at the age of 24. It came out of nowhere, with Ronan O'Gara admitting that the first he had heard of it was on twitter. At the time, Goosen announced that he was returning to his native South Africa to take up a role as Commercial Director.
A reeling club president, Jacky Lorenzetti, released the following statement:
He (Goosen) has announced today that he has taken the incredible decision to end his playing career, to return to South Africa for a role as commercial director.
We regret that such a talented player has gone astray and has decided to abandon professional rugby. It seems obvious that such a role has proven incompatible with high level sport.
As the shock subsided to anger, Lorenzetti said that the club had supported Goosen both "morally" and "financially" in recent months: Midi Olympique reported that Goosen was loaned €400k by the club.
Three days later, the same paper reported that Goosen's claim that he was returning to South Africa may not be entirely true: they report that Goosen had quit Racing in order to force a move elsewhere, namely Gloucester. The same report said that racing expected Goosen to present himself at training that morning, December 19.
Events have taken a further turn today, as Racing have released a statement on their website stating that they are issuing legal proceedings against Goosen. They claim the player has not shown up to work in the past couple of days, and appears to have fled his local residence. The statement goes on to say that "Racing 92 believes that the club is a victim of blatant fraud which Johan Goosen, his associates and various advisers must answer for in court".
Here's the statement in full:
Racing 92 regrets to announce that Johan Goosen has not appeared at the club for the last two days and seems to have vacated his residence at Le Plessis-Robinson. As far as Racing 92 is concerned, Johan Goosen still remains bound to the club by an employment contract lasting four years, while his residence, company car, locker, and place in the locker-room all remain at his disposal. To this effect, Johan Goosen remains on the list of players qualified by the EPCR to play in the Champions Cup, starting with the match between Racing 92 and Munster this Saturday.
In response to Johan Goosen’s behaviour, Racing 92 is forced to initiate several legal proceedings aimed at enforcing its rights and redressing the harm done to the club. Racing 92 believes that the club is a victim of blatant fraud which Johan Goosen, his associates and various advisers must answer for in court.
Various civil proceedings will be taken out, partly to obtain reimbursement of the advance payments made to Johan Goosen with regard to his image rights, and also to obtain compensation for the non-provision of services to which he had committed in this domain.
A complaint will also be laid with the French Industrial Tribunal in order to prosecute the player’s fraudulent and wrongful failure to fulfil his contractual obligations and to compensate the resulting significant damage for the club.
A criminal complaint will also be filed, as the open-ended employment contract produced by Johan Goosen and signed by one of his friends and business associates appears to constitute a phony document, given that it is not conceivable that a player put an end to his sporting career while at the peak of such career, and accept a position in a South African company for a salary ten times less than what he was earning as a rugby player at Racing 92.
Full light must be shed on the responsibility of the various people who advised Johan Goosen in taking this aberrant and fraudulent strategy, and to this extent, there are grounds for wondering how Johan Goosen is being supported financially given the numerous commitments and investments he has to meet.
We await any further developments.