THE DEBATE: Has Qatari cash at PSG ruined French football?

Arab News debates whether Qatar's cash injection into Paris Saint-Germain - and the purchase of players like Neymar - has ruined French football. (AFP)
Updated 25 November 2018

THE DEBATE: Has Qatari cash at PSG ruined French football?

  • PSG beat Toulouse 1-0 on Saturday to make it 14 wins from 14 matches
  • Arab News debates whether Qatari cash has ruined French football

LONDON: Paris Saint-German beat Toulouse 1-0 on Saturday to make it 14 wins from 14 matches. It is still November and we can already say it will take a miracle for them not to win their eighth Ligue 1 title. Has the Qatar-owned club ruined French club football?

YES, says Greg Wilcox
Many fans have a problem with the way money has changed football. Clubs such as Nottingham Forest, who won two European Cups, no longer have a chance of glory. But never before has the corrupting influence of cash been seen so stark as with PSG and Ligue 1.
The French top flight used to be one of the most competitive in the world — from 2008 to 2012 there were five different champions. Now it is a case of everyone else playing for second. Sport is about competition and any vestige of that has been kicked into Row Z by Qatar’s cash. Why would anyone bother to watch the league now?

NO, says Daniel Fountain
Sure, Ligue Un is a procession at the moment. But, like it or loathe it, sport has become an entertainment industry. Fans want to see the best players and watch entertaining football, which PSG provide week in, week out.
The huge wealth PSG now have has never been seen before in French football. But if others are encouraged to invest in Ligue 1 clubs, it will have the same transformative effect that big-bucks, foreign-ownership has had in the Premier League and La Liga, which are often considered the best leagues in the world.
Other clubs in French football will catch up, but there always has to be a first time. You cannot blame PSG for that.

Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 33 min 23 sec ago

Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.