Former France footballer handed five-year sentence for role in nightclub shooting

Former France international and Ligue 1 winner Tony Vairelles has received a five-year prison sentence for his involvement in a nightclub shooting in October 2011.

The incident happened in the town of Essey-les-Nancy, shortly after the ex-striker called time on his 20-year professional career. Vairelles and his three brothers allegedly clashed with bouncers – who were struck by bullets – inside the venue.

Vairelles, who won eight senior caps between 1998 and 2000, was initially detained by the police after the incident but freed in March 2012 pending further investigations. The four brothers were charged with “aggravated violence” after being held on suspicion of attempted murder.

Vairelles has always denied the charges brought against him but was sentenced to three years in prison on Monday, as per France Bleu. He was also given a two-year suspended sentence for “violence with weapons”.

The ex-striker’s brother Fabrice has received the same sentence, fellow siblings Jimmy and Giovan were both sentenced to 12 months in prison, with a further two years suspended. The four brothers have also been banned from carrying or possessing weapons for five years.

It is unclear if Vairelles and his brothers will appeal the verdicts. The bouncers involved in the incident have all been handed suspended sentences, lasting between three and four months.Tony Vairelles won eight senior caps for France between 1998 and 2000Tony Vairelles in action for France

“The shooter tried to aim his gun at my face,” bouncer Baldassare Di Napoli told the court in March. “I tried to take the pistol off him, and a bullet went through my hand. I still have pains the length of my arm, and psychological problems.”

Fellow bouncer Carlo Di Napoli added: “I feared I would never walk again. I was in hospital for months, and have post-traumatic stress.”

A third bouncer named Peter Gerdrum claimed he is still struggling to walk after being shot in the thigh. The brothers insisted they had suffered broken teeth and injuries all over their bodies after being allegedly attacked by the three doormen.

Vairelles was one of the most famous strikers in French football during his heyday, representing 12 clubs – including Nancy, Lens, Lyon, Bordeaux, Rennes and Bastia. He found the back of the net 148 times in league football, scoring many of his goals in Ligue 1.

The 49-year-old won two Ligue 1 titles, the French League Cup and French Super Cup. He also enjoyed a spell at Luxembourg outfit Dudelange, winning a league and cup double in 2008-09.

Vairelles made his senior debut for France in August 1998, coming on against Austria in a friendly. That was France’s first game after winning the World Cup on home soil, famously beating Brazil 3-0 to lift the trophy for the first time.

Vairelles remained in and around the national side for the next two years – scoring in a 3-0 win against Croatia in November 1999 – but didn’t do enough to earn a spot in France’s victorious Euro 2000 squad. His final cap came in April 2000 against Slovenia.

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