Former France international Jerome Rothen has expressed his astonishment after being handed a three-month suspended ban for breaking France's strict laws on players' involvement in gambling.
Now at Ligue 1 outfit Bastia, Rothen, 34, was punished by the French Football League (LFP) Disciplinary Commission for making predictions on Ligue 2 matches on the Unibet online betting site between August and November this season.
ARJEL, the regulatory authority for online betting in France, alerted the LFP to the situation in February, claiming that Rothen had broken the league's rules, which do not allow players to be involved in gambling in any competition in which they play.
"Unibet has an army of lawyers, and they told me that it was okay because I no longer play in Ligue 2," Rothen, who was named the French second tier's best player after helping Bastia to promotion last season, told L'Equipe. "In front of the commission, my lawyer explained that Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are different championships."
In a statement, the LFP reminded players they could not "make predictions on [any] competitions" organised by the body and urged clubs to emphasise that fact to their staff.
Rothen, whose suspension will not be enforced unless he infringes the same rules again within a year, believes the league has made him a scapegoat to reinforce its message.
"The people on the commission wanted to set a precedent. That is because I'm well-known, so punishing me will prevent other cases. I find it incredible I'm being singled out to serve as an example. There's never been any question of corruption," the former Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and Rangers man said.
"When I was summoned to appear before the commission, I thought I would just get a warning. Now, people are going to talk about me in an affair which should never have been. And anyway, when you look at the results, eight-out-of-ten of my predictions were wrong. I told the commission that and they laughed."