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On Soccer: An Ex-Owner of the Dodgers Takes Another Swing in Marseille

McCourt does no longer see it like that. He sees the ones fanatics, that fireside, no longer as some burden from Marseille’s previous, however as the important thing to its long run.

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In summer time 2016, when Jacques-Henri Eyraud, an urbane French media government, approached McCourt to put money into Marseille (the speculation of shopping for the membership outright got here later), what captured the American’s creativeness used to be the membership’s “actual historical past, the true pedigree, the true pastime.”

It had a swish, ultramodern stadium, international renown, a fanatical fan base and a wealthy historical past, culminating in its victory within the Champions League in 1993. (Marseille remains to be the one French group to win membership football’s largest prize.) McCourt noticed it, he stated, as “probably the most closing, if no longer the closing,” of Eu football’s blue-chip houses that used to be out there. “It’s,” he stated, “an epic logo.”

In a special gentle, although, it would have appeared like a relic. Football has modified past all popularity since Marseille stood on most sensible of the Eu sport (although admittedly in a duration through which the membership used to be tainted by means of a match-fixing scandal). The panorama has been shifted no longer most effective by means of the inflow of large sums from Russian oligarchs and Gulf sovereign wealth budget, but in addition by means of globalization, by means of social media, by means of famous person tradition.

Historical past and native fervor are now not sufficient to draw audience, to generate traction, to make a group well-known. An increasing number of, fanatics are interested in people quite than collectives; an increasing number of, what issues is big name energy, a pattern easiest exemplified by means of Paris St.-Germain, Marseille’s maximum sour rival.

Within the French capital, P.S.G.’s Qatari backers have remodeled an underperforming group right into a Eu energy by means of drafting in — at nice expense — probably the most most famed names on this planet: maximum particularly, after all, turning Neymar into the planet’s most costly participant and making Kylian Mbappé his deputy.

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