France have been accused of deliberately losing a match at the Men's Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Trieste ©FINA

France have been accused of deliberately losing a match at last week's Men's Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Trieste to ensure that they helped themselves qualify for Rio 2016. 

David Hart, a former member of Canada's water polo team, has contacted the International Swimming Federation (FINA) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the incident, which is now being investigated.

He has also started an online petition demanding punishment for France, who lost the match 13-4 against Canada on April 7. 

The petition has a target of 2,000 signatures and has already been signed more than 1,200 times. 

The defeat ensured France an easier path to the semi-finals and they took full advantage.

They eventually finished fourth in the tournament and won the final qualifying spot for this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after beating The Netherlands 4-3 on penalties. 

Canada had to face former Olympic champions Spain in the quarter-finals - the team France wanted to avoid - and lost 8-7, ending any hopes of qualifying for Rio 2016.

Hart has written to FINA and reported the incident to the IOC Integrity and Compliance hotline, set up to report suspicious approaches or activities related to competition manipulation.

"It was horrific," Hart, a 64-year-old who represented Canada in four Olympics, told Canadian broadcaster CBC.

"Any educated person would know, it was quite clear.

"It is absolutely not sour grapes.

"The Canadian men have no benefit from this. 

"The only team who might benefit is Holland, they were next in line."

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FINA's own website noted that "Canada was more interested to win this match against France" ©FINA

Even the official FINA website noted how France did not seem particularly bothered about winning the match. 

"Already qualified for the Quarters Finals both teams played in energy saving mood," they wrote.

"Canada was more interested to win this match against France."

The website also drew attention to the fact that the French coach gave his team hardly any instructions during the course of the match. 

"Energy saving mood also for the French coach Florian Bruzzo, whose voice today was almost never heard, differently from the previous days," it wrote. 

FINA told CBC News that it "is currently investigating this matter and can't comment further".

Eight badminton players were expelled from the 2012 Olympics in London for purposely losing matches to manipulate the draw.

"The solution to this immediate problem is for FINA to confirm and sanction the team responsible, to find a suitable replacement for their spot in Rio [2016]," Hart wrote on his petition.

"This will help to reestablish confidence world-wide that the values of fair play are still important.

"Next, FINA must replace their qualification procedures with a system that eliminates game fixing as a viable option for the future."