Lucien Bouchardeau, a retired Nigerien football referee ,who is best remembered for having officiated 1998 World Cup first round match between Italy and Chile, is reported to be bedridden and in desperate need of medical assistance.
For the last few months, Bouchardeau has been held down by a heart problem and his family is seeking assistance from individuals and corporate bodies in the country to help him out of his current predicament.
According to a source close to his family, Bouchardeau has been in and out of a local hospital on several occasions and now has exhausted all his savings seeking medication.
Bourchardeu now requires CFA 10 million to undergo an operation in France with the Niger Federation reported to have ignored his cry for help and has been left to sort out things on his own.
The soft spoken Bourchardeu is familiar name in Niger football circles. He is the first referee from the West African country to officiate at the World Cup.
However, his quick whistle in 1998 World Cup was questioned in a match between Italy and Chile which FIFA had to put him under investigation after he gave Italy the controversial late penalty which allowed them to snatch a 2-2 draw with Chile in their opening match on June 11 in Bordeaux.
The referee judged that Chilean defender Ronald Fuentes was guilty of handball after a cross from Roberto Baggio hit him on the arm.
Following the game he talked to the press about his fear he would be sacked from the tournament, which would mark the end of his career. Under FIFA rules, referees are not allowed to talk to the press during the World Cup.
Before officiating the World Cup ,Baurchardeu also handled matches at the 1996 Olympics, 1997 Confederations Cup and the 1998 and 1996 Africa Cup of Nations.