French international rugby player Mohamed Haouas

Clermont-Ferrand (France) (AFP) - A request by Top 14 club Clermont to cancel the employment contract of Mohamed Haouas, who was last month convicted of hitting his wife, was dismissed by a French industrial tribunal on Monday.

Haouas, who has won 16 caps for France as a prop, had been due to link up with Clermont from French rugby union rivals Montpellier.

But the 29-year-old was handed a one-year jail sentence at the end of May for striking his partner at a shopping centre, something that ruled out the player from France coach Fabien Galthie’s World Cup plans later in the year.

It also looked like Haouas was without a club after quitting Montpellier, with Clermont seeking to suspend their contract with the player that was due to start on July 1.

The tribune, however, ruled against Clermont’s request as “unfounded”.

It also rejected requests by Haouas “for the early termination of the employment contract” and a payment of 390,000 euros in respect to this anticipated early termination, as well as a secondary payment of 50,000 euros for moral damages.

Clermont were ordered to pay Haouas 800 euros for his legal costs and will also have to stump up for the costs of the procedure.

“We are waiting for the reasons behind this decision before commenting on it,” said the club, which has 15 days to make an appeal.

Haouas’ lawyer Arnaud Dubois said his client was “relieved to know that he remains employed by a club next year”.

“He is now waiting to know if Clermont will retain him, sack him or offer him a move.”

Haouas’ “priority”, Dubois added, has always been “to honour his contract… to join the Clermont staff, which he is ready to do from July 1”.

Speaking at the tribunal last week Clermont’s lawyer Patrick Puso said the club had been “tricked” by Haouas and Montpellier.

“It’s not the profile we took on,” Puso said, adding that Haouas had a duty to “respect the criteria of the ethics of French rugby”.

Dubois responded by saying his client was “not a product but a rugby player whom they want to prevent from working and feeding his family”.

A second lawyer representing Haouas, Marc Gallix, told AFP that the conditions of his sentence were discussed in Montpellier on Monday.

According to Gallix, the sentencing judge could opt either for a house arrest under electronic surveillance or parental parole as Haouas is father to two young children and the family’s main breadwinner.

The second option, probably accompanied by psychological follow-up and a domestic violence awareness course, is “preferable” to one that would involve wearing an electronic bracelet because it would allow the player “to exercise his profession”, Gallix said.

In February 2022, Haouas received an 18-month suspended sentence for his part in a series of robberies in April 2014 and for receiving a stolen car.

Last month, in a separate case, prosecutors recommended Haouas be given a two-year suspended prison sentence for his role in a fight in January 2014, with the decision expected on June 30.