A French rugby player who sparked a diplomatic incident when he falsely claimed that he had been assaulted by New Zealand fans was been admitted to psychiatric care after reportedly throwing himself into the Seine River.
Mathieu Bastareaud, 20, was believed to have attempted suicide after telling friends he could not cope with the scandal that erupted when his lies were uncovered by police in New Zealand. The incident has become an embarrassment to French rugby authorities amid claims that they helped to cover up a hotel room fight between players and left Bastareaud to face the controversy on his own.
Bastareaud, who is black, is a rare representative of France’s troubled suburban estates in a sport mostly dominated by white players. This, his friends say, has exacerbated his mental fragility.
"He sent me a text saying he couldn’t stand this harassment," said Stade Francais teammate Mathieu Blin. "Now he’s completely gone off the rails."
French media reports said the rugby player told friends that he was suicidal after being sent home from France’s tour to New Zealand and Australia. He jumped into the Seine over the weekend, French sports newspaper LÉquipe reported.
Max Guazzini, the chairman of Stade Francais, said Bastareaud would be kept under observation for at least two weeks in a clinic.
"He is completely gutted. He needs to be left alone."