KU Leuven VRG-Alumni Award

We would like to bring to your attention below, a letter written by CAS Trust Member John Salvatore regarding The KU Leuven VRG-Alumni Award presented to Katrien Meire earlier this year.


Dear Colleagues,

I write to you as a member of the Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust (CAS Trust) in relation to the above award made to your former graduate Katrien Meire in March 2016. You will have seen previously my letter of the same month in which I drew to your attention certain comments and other matters of concern relating to Mlle. Meire in 2015 whilst she was the CEO of Charlton Athletic Football Club (a position she still holds at the time of writing). I did invite the KU Leuven, at the conclusion of that letter, to consider whether the VRG-Alumni award to Mlle. Meire should be withdrawn. I have yet to receive any response.

We (The Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust) believe the Alumni award made to Mlle. Meire is contrary to the published Mission Statement of the KU Leuven (item 2). However, we accept that when the award was made the prize-giving committee may have been unaware of the damning statement which Mlle. Meire made in Brussels in 2015 and unaware also of the actions taken by Charlton Athletic FC under her stewardship in 2015 which led to the Club being censured by the British Advertising Standards Authority for screening material with sexual content within an advertising campaign which could have been viewed by children.

I do not intend to reprise fully the content of my original letter; however, we believe that the comments made in Brussels represent grounds alone for an inquiry by the Executive Board of KU Leuven into the awarding of the VRG-Alumni Award to Katrien Meire. To remind you once again of the seriousness of the insult: in an interview given to a Brussels newspaper she stated ‘‘I should not say this but I don’t care about the history of the Club’. This, from a graduate of KU Leuven is unbecoming of an academic who has received five years educational training at a highly prestigious university and is a further slight on Item 2 of the University’s own Mission Statement. It is legitimate to ask: was she equally dismissive of the near 600 year history of the University which nurtured her? The fact that she recognises in the interview given to L’Echo that what she is about to say shouldn’t actually be voiced only serves to heighten the impact of the insult and is grossly disrespectful to the Club which employs her and to the many thousands of the Club’s fans who hold its history very dear. Charlton Athletic FC is a treasured part of the fabric of the community in South-East London and has been so for over 100 years. Katrien Meire however saw fit to dismiss this with one contemptuous, calculated, single, unforgiving sentence. It is this fact, i.e. that Katrien Meire knew and understood that she was betraying academic and professional standards but continued anyway, that takes the statement beyond that of a mere faux pas and in our view fatally undermines the justifications for the Alumni award presented to her. We note that Mlle. Meire was quite willing to accept the award at the prize-giving ceremony on the 11th March and listen to the eulogy given to her by Dr. Droshout without murmur.

We believe that this matter cannot be left unchallenged. If Mlle. Meire is willing to put out a full public statement as a single issue in a prominent position on the Official Website of Charlton Athletic FC in which she apologises to the CAS Trust and the Charlton fans for stating that she did not care about the history of the Club and accepts that she should not have said it then the matter can be resolved (this apology to appear no later than June 21st 2016 and to appear irrespective of whether she still holds the CEO post at the Club or not). Should she chose not to do so then we will feel we have no option but to pursue the matter further by making a formal complaint to the KU Leuven Executive Board (in which we are willing to provide and give evidence to the Board in person either in London or Leuven) and to publicise the matter in order that the merits or otherwise of Katrien Meire’s VRG-Alumni award 2016 presented to her by KU Leuven may be discussed more widely.

Yours sincerely

Dr. John P. Salvatore BA. FSA. MCIfA.

Member of the Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust