How did the Islamic faith of its director constitute a problem for those around Ilan Bernier?

“An attribute of God’s product.”

In May, several key players on the French side – sponsor, club management and Aglo de Pauw – were already putting pressure on the US owners to oust the one…

“An attribute of God’s product.”

In May, several key players on the French side – sponsor, club management and Aglo de Pauw – had already pressured the US owners to oust the club’s general manager, the former American player. Pinero’s piety. The former basketball player was somewhat appreciated internally, but he just showed his Islamic faith on social networks, in a post recalling the difficulties of his career and concluding with a reference to his religion: “I am a living example of what God can do for someone whose faith is unshakable. »


After his appointment as General Manager on May 13, Taqwa Pinheiro published a letter mentioning the difficulties of his career and concluded it with a reference to his religion: “I am a living example of what God can do for him whose faith is unshakable.”

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Then businessman Stefan Karela, who presents himself as an “investor and partner of the club for several years”, decided to write on May 20 to the management of Elan: “Like many other sponsors and partners, I am amazed to read the letters sent by your new General Manager, Mr. How can this man define himself as a “pure product of God” when Ilan was originally a Catholic club? »

The president of the prestigious Villa Navarre (and among other things, the site of the Dune du Pyla camp in the Gironde) raised the “dirty image” of the club and threatened for “the lack of a quick reaction” to withdraw its investment with “a number of other important partners. A maneuver we already knew in the past is very distant in Ilan.” It was a matter of rallying sponsors to oust the coach the club wanted to break with.

Mayor and President of Agglo de Pau, François Bayrou, President of Elan Béarnais David Bonnemason-Carrère and American Tom Huston, predecessor of Pinheiro's piety as General Manager, are here in April 2021.


Mayor and President of Agglo de Pau, François Bayrou, President of Elan Béarnais David Bonnemason-Carrère and American Tom Huston, predecessor of Pinheiro’s piety as General Manager, are here in April 2021.

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Meet in the same evening

The Atlantic lines immediately warmed up, and then club president David Bonnemson-Carrier tried to make the American owners understand the urgency of the situation. “This kind of attitude about God on social networks is very poorly perceived, especially for a club of Catholic origin (Ilan Bernier comes from a religious patronage, editor’s note). Moreover, the topic is very sensitive in France with regard to terrorist attacks. This It makes people and sponsors react powerfully,” the French leader delivered via letters asking for a quick meeting.

It will take place on the same evening, at 9:30 pm, in the form of a conference call at the invitation of the Cabinet of François Bayrou. The latter, accompanied by David Bonnemason-Carrère and two others close to Elan’s administration, would then attempt to explain the arguments of the dissatisfied shepherd.

Several months later, we contacted Francois Bayrou, and he claimed that he simply “defended the principles of secularism” as a representative of Agglo Pau, a public institution and the club’s main financial support. He remembers that Ilan’s Catholic past has already been mentioned, but to illustrate the French social context and tensions around Islam are clearly shown.

“The mayor made it clear to us that we have to dismiss the piety, and that he cannot remain the general manager,” in the meantime, retained Greg Hughes, one of the two leaders of the CSG, who is still at odds with the municipality after the takeover in 2021 “said François Bayrou. To that a Muslim would not be accepted domestically and politically, because Ilan is a Catholic organization. We answered that it was out of the question to expel someone for their religious belief, and that this was not our way of doing things or being. The mayor insisted, repeating to us that we should remove piety. Repeat that we did not We understand the mentality here, which was impossible.”

“In particular”

David Bonnemason-Carrère for his part confirms to “Sud Ouest” that a letter was received, and then a meeting was held “in private”, but he does not wish to comment on the content. He denies that anyone asks about the head of the general manager.

Stéphane Karrère, for his part, asserts that he “never wanted to pressure anyone”: “I have no connection with Elan, I am a simple private partner who occupies two places a year! It was a private email to a friend, David Bonnemason-Carrère, because I Sorry we mix sports and religion.”

The main interested party, Taqwa Pinheiro, did not wish to comment on our information.

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