Evening Update Wednesday 18th October 2023

Six people have been arrested and questioned by police on the Riviera and near Paris as part of a vast investigation into alleged football corruption. Investigators in Nice and the Paris suburb of Nanterre carried out the raids at the homes of several French football advisors and agents. The arrests were made in connection with a preliminary investigation opened by the Nice prosecutor's office in March last year. Among the crimes being investigated are illegal exercise of the profession of sports agent, forgery, fraud in an organised gang and money laundering. They relate to the transfer of Montpellier striker Andy Delort to OGC Nice football club in 2021.

Meanwhile, Marseille football supporters will be banned from travelling to Nice this weekend to see the local derby against OGC Nice. The prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes, Hugues Moutouh, has asked the interior minister to issue a travel ban. He says the local security situation is too tense, in the aftermath of the Arras school knife attack and ongoing tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict and various related demonstrations. Adding a potentially violent clash between rival football fans into the mix would be too risky. The Marseille-Nice match is due to be played at the Allianz Riviera on Saturday at 9pm.

The man who killed a schoolteacher in northern France last week has been charged with terror offences and had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group in an audio recording before his attack. The suspected attacker, Mohammed Moguchkov, 20, was charged with murder linked to a terrorist conspiracy, as well as associating with terrorist criminals, by an anti-terror judge. He was remanded into custody. His 16-year-old brother also appeared before the judge, suspected of having "provided him with some support" before he stabbed Dominique Bernard, 57, at his former school in Arras. The teenager was charged and placed in pre-trial detention.

Terminal 1 at Nice Airport was briefly evacuated this morning due to a suspect package. Meanwhile airports in Lille, Lyon, Nantes, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Biarritz, Pau and Beauvais were evacuated earlier today due to bomb threats, leading to substantial flight delays. The Palace of Versailles also had another false bomb alert this morning, its third since Saturday.

Air France has confirmed that it will stop flying from Nice and Marseille to Paris Orly airport from 2026, as the airline wants to consolidate its activities at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport instead. Air France flights from Toulouse and France's overseas territories will also move from Orly to Charles de Gaulle at the same time. Flights from Nice to Orly will still be available from 2026 - but they'll be operated by Air France's budget subsidiary, Transavia. Air France said the number of flights between Nice and the French capital would be at about 90% of their current level - just some of the flights would operate under the Transavia brand instead.

GPs in France have called off their rolling strike action after the French government indicated it was prepared to reopen negotiations about consultation fees. The cost of seeing a doctor is due to rise from €25 to €26.50 on 1st November, while GPs are calling for a bigger increase to €30, which they say would allow them to hire staff to manage administrative tasks so that they have more time to treat patients. Health minister Aurélien Rousseau said he had taken note of their demands. A first round of talks could be organised for later this month.

A one-year-old baby is being treated in hospital for severe burns after a household accident in Le Cannet. The boy suffered second degree burns from boiling water on their face and arms. The exact circumstances of the incident are not yet clear. The baby was taken to La Timone hospital, which has a specialist burns unit.

A 25-year-old man has died after his car collided with a heavy goods vehicle on the Route de Turin in Nice yesterday. Meanwhile, two people have had a miraculous escape after their car flipped on to its roof at high speed on the A8 motorway yesterday morning in the Var. The incident happened near junction 39, Les Adrets, at about 8.30 yesterday. The car's occupants managed to get out unharmed and took refuge behind the security barrier. Several other passing cars had their tyres damaged by debris.

A four-vehicle pile-up on the A57 in the Var has caused traffic delays during this morning's rush hour. A dozen firefighters were called to the scene to clear the wreckage of the damaged cars. The incident occurred on the Toulon-bound carriageway, near Solliès-Ville. No one was injured.

The head of Nice university hospital's accident and emergency department says it's recovered from a period of staff shortages and is ready for the coming winter. The A&E ward is now running at full steam with more than 50 doctors on the rota and only three vacancies still to be filled. Over the summer holidays, Nice has the busiest emergency ward in France, treating 100,000 patients per year. Five extra beds on the accident and emergency ward are due to be made available from the beginning of December.

Monaco wants to push ahead with ambitious plans for a major redesign of the Fontvieille shopping district, parts of which are showing signs of age. The principality wants to demolish and rebuild the complex, with the creation of 30,000 square metres of shopping space, a multiplex cinema, new housing, a park and more car parking capacity. The aim is to offer a varied experience to better compete with the likes of Cap 3000 and Polygone Riviera. The project comes with a budget of €300 million.

BUSINESS

China's biggest private property developer Country Garden is believed to have become the latest property giant to default on its overseas debt. The firm has $11bn in debt and another $6bn in onshore loans, and a default would mark one of the country's biggest corporate debt restructurings. Its possible default adds to concerns about China's post-pandemic recovery. Problems in China's property market are having a major impact as the sector accounts for a third of the economy. The latest figures show that the country's economy grew 4.9% in the three months between July and September. That is slower than the 6.3% expansion in the second quarter. Beijing has announced various measures in a bid to boost housing demand, but property sales numbers are still down when compared to last year.

Meanwhile, Apple chief executive Tim Cook has made a surprise visit to China. Though in an upbeat mood as he met gamers in the city of Chengdu, the company faces flagging iPhone demand in the country. It is his second trip to China this year - in March he said Apple had a "symbiotic" relationship with China, a key manufacturing base. But the firm's operations in the country have been complicated by Covid and US-China tensions.

Food prices in the UK saw their first monthly fall in two years in September, but fuel prices rose sharply, official figures show. It came as the overall rate of inflation held steady at 6.7%, ending a run of three consecutive monthly falls. The price of milk, cheese and eggs all decreased, easing the pressure at supermarket tills, the Office for National Statistics said. But petrol increased by 5.1p per litre, hitting drivers at the pumps.

SPORT

Football - Lionel Messi became the all-time top scorer in South American World Cup qualifying with both goals in Argentina's 2-0 win over Peru. Messi opened the scoring after 32 minutes and added a second with a spectacular finish moments later. He now has 31 goals in World Cup qualifiers, surpassing Luis Suarez 29 for Uruguay.

Cricket - The impending return of Ben Stokes at the Cricket World Cup is set to create a massive selection headache for England head coach Matthew Mott. The reigning world champions have been beaten twice in their first three games with Stokes on the sidelines after England lost to New Zealand and Afghanistan. Stokes, who suffered a hip injury on the eve of the tournament, is on track to return in Saturday's must-win clash against South Africa. Stokes' likely return – which appears all but certain – means a big decision rests on Mott's shoulders as to which player should drop out.

Formula 1 - Golfer Rory McIlroy and boxer Anthony Joshua are among the sports stars to join a group that has invested in the Alpine Formula 1 team. Liverpool and England footballer Trent Alexander-Arnold and NFL star Patrick Mahomes have also joined up with Otro Capital, which owns 24% of Alpine. Otro invested in the team in June. Its purchase of a 24% stake valued the Renault-owned team at about £706m. The hope is the involvement of further star names will raise awareness of Alpine across global sport and increase its fanbase.

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