FFR President Bernard Laporte is under pressure to stand down ©Getty Images

Pressure is mounting on French Rugby Federation (FFR) President Bernard Laporte to stand down after being found guilty of charges including passive corruption and influence peddling by a court in Paris, with the National Rugby League (LNR) calling for fresh elections.

Laporte is a key figure within rugby union and has served as FFR President since 2016, but has already "self-suspended" himself from his role as World Rugby vice-chair after being handed a two-year suspended prison sentence in the case which also implicated his friend and Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad.

The LNR, which manages professional rugby in France, held a meeting of its Bureau and has added its voice to the calls for Laporte to step aside from his role at the head of the FFR.

"The LNR Office took note of the decision pronounced Tuesday by the Paris Criminal Court and of the position of the Minister of Sports," it said.

"Faced with this unprecedented situation which is weakening the institution, and after consultation with the presidents of Top 14 and Pro D2, the LNR Board considers that it is appropriate to restore appeasement within French rugby through the organisation of new elections by the FFR, as requested by the Minister of Sports."

The French Ministry of Sports expressed the belief of Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra that Laporte cannot "pursue his mission under good conditions at the head of a Federation delegated to a public service mission" after the court ruling on Tuesday (December 13).

The FFR said that the ruling means Laporte is "not subject to provisional execution, and that he can retain his functions as President of the French Federation of Rugby".

The crisis comes with France set to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023 ©Getty Images
The crisis comes with France set to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023 ©Getty Images

Laporte's lawyer has said the FFR President intends to appeal the court's decision.

The FFR said that Laporte is "presumed innocent pending the judgment of the Court of Appeal".

A Paris court ruled that Laporte could not hold any position in the sport for two years, but this and the suspended prison sentence are not immediately enforceable as Laporte has appealed.

The scandal within French rugby comes at a key time, with the country set to host next year's Rugby World Cup.

Laporte was found guilty of illegal taking of interest, influence peddling, passive corruption and embezzlement, and also fined €75,000 (£64,300/$79,800).

Altrad was found guilty of active corruption, influence peddling and abuse of corporate assets, and handed an 18-month suspended prison sentence.

The case was dominated by claims Laporte had favoured Altrad in a series of marketing decisions, including on the awarding of a shirt sponsor contract to the national side.

Altrad's eponymous construction company became the first-ever sponsor to appear on the French national team's shirts following a €1.8 million (£1.5 million/$1.9 million) deal in 2017.

The court also found that Laporte benefited from a €180,000 (£154,000/$192,000) image licensing contract that was never carried out.