PSG no closer to joining European elite despite $1 billion investment by Qatar

Paris Saint-Germain's players react after losing the Champions League round of 16 second-leg tie with Real Madrid. (AFP)
Updated 07 March 2018
0

PSG no closer to joining European elite despite $1 billion investment by Qatar

DOHA: Paris Saint-Germain’s latest bruising exit from the European football Champions League may have been particularly painful for two men watching among the almost 50,000-strong crowd at Parc des Princes.
High in the stands in the Paris stadium were Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and the former ruler, his father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who together have helped bankroll the French team’s obsession with landing club football’s biggest prize: The European Cup.
Tuesday’s limp defeat, even if by Real Madrid, seems scant return for the more than €1 billion ($1.2 billion) poured into PSG since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought the French club in 2011.
This was meant to be the year the club — having signed Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for a combined €402 million — joined European football’s elite.
Instead, PSG has failed to realize its ambitions, crucially at a time when Qatar is at the center of a bitter political conflict with neighboring former allies in the Gulf.
Even more galling for Qatar and PSG is that one of the favorites this year is Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City.
Those involved with PSG say there is no chance of Qatar turning its back on the club.
“The project is not stopping,” said a source close to the club.
“The investment has been huge and is continuing.”
Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who simultaneously serves as chairman of QSI and president of PSG — in addition to being a tennis buddy of the current emir — spoke immediately after the humbling defeat about taking time to reflect, despite being “upset.”
“Short-term, the club’s Neymar-powered, Gulf feud-busting tactics would appear to be at an end,” said Simon Chadwick, a professor of Sports Enterprise at Britain’s Salford University and a member of a Qatari government sport think tank.
“Longer term, however, one senses it will be a case of keep calm and carry on.”
Success “requires sustained investment in talent acquisition and development,” he adds, not just the occasional big name signing.
Patience, though, is not a highly regarded virtue in modern-day football, even though the experience of “nouveau-riche” clubs such as England’s Chelsea and Manchester City demonstrate it takes time for a team to establish itself among Europe’s traditional elite.
For those directly involved with the day-to-day running of PSG, reflection on the Real defeat is likely to take the form of what to do with coach Unai Emery and Neymar.
Paris-based French football specialist Jonathan Johnson says the latest failure will see “heads roll” and even speculates that Khelaifi may be for “the chopping block.”
For Qatar, what to do next with PSG seems to be a matter of broader considerations, including international politics, diplomacy and finance.
The emirate has exploited sport to pursue a soft power approach to improving its global image.
This effort has reached its height in football, through PSG and the country’s winning bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
“Overall, there’s no doubt that Qatar’s six-year involvement with PSG has been a soft power success,” says Christopher Davidson, a professor in Middle East politics at Durham University.
Financing the PSG European dream though is key.
One billion euros may sound a lot but is equal only to a fortnight’s spending on World Cup preparations for Qatar.
And despite its vast gas riches, the boycott by its regional rivals has hit Doha’s economy.
“The economic blockade drags on and no real end is in sight,” Davidson said.
“Cutting through the extensive propaganda produced by both sides, there’s no doubt that the Qatari economy is feeling the squeeze.”


‘It’s epic’: Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal stars tour incredible Ad Diriyah E Prix venue

Al-Nassr’s Nigerian superstar Ahmed Musa (back right) joins (front left to right) Al-Hilal’s Ali Al-Habsi and Mohammad Jahfali and (back left) Saleh Alweheemed ahead of this weekend’s 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 10 December 2018
0

‘It’s epic’: Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal stars tour incredible Ad Diriyah E Prix venue

  • 22 Formula E drivers will battle it out for glory this weekend
  • "I’m very happy to see how Saudi Arabia is becoming a rising name for big sports"

JEDDAH: They may be fierce rivals in the Saudi Pro League, but some of the biggest stars of Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr football got together to tour the venue of one of the most anticipated motor racing events in Saudi history.
The players soaked up the atmosphere as they visited the home of the 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E Prix.
This weekend the 2.495km track created within the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Ad Diriyah will see 22 Formula E drivers battle it out for glory.
Goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi said: “I’m totally amazed by what they have built here, the track, the grandstands, the hospitality, it’s incredible what they’ve created for the Formula E.  It’s epic.
“As a professional athlete I’m very happy to see how Saudi Arabia is becoming a rising name for big sports, this will be a fiercely fought contest which is sure to thrill the fans.”

 (Left to right) Al Hilal star players Alberto Botia, Abdullah Almaiouf, Mohammad Jahfali, Ali Al-Habsi and Carlos Eduardo visit the new Formula E track at the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Ad Diriyah. (Photo/Supplied)

The racing extravaganza will also be accompanied by fan zones, entertainment and cultural attractions.
Three nights of music concerts will feature some of the biggest names in world. 
US smash hit OneRepublic and superstar DJ/producer David Guetta will wrap up the event after the race ends on Saturday with Enrique Iglesias, Jason Derulo and Amr Diab performing from Thursday.
Al Nassr’s Nigerian superstar Ahmed Mussa said: “We’re all about entertaining fans and bringing people together, that’s what football and sport is all about. These three nights will be a spectacle like nothing we’ve seen before and I urge our fans to come and be part of history.”