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

McCourt does now not see it like that. He sees the ones fanatics, that fireside, now not 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 theory of shopping for the membership outright got here later), what captured the American’s creativeness was once the membership’s “actual historical past, the true pedigree, the true hobby.”

It had a graceful, 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 greatest prize.) McCourt noticed it, he mentioned, as “one of the crucial closing, if now not the closing,” of Eu football’s blue-chip houses that was once out there. “It’s,” he mentioned, “an epic logo.”

In a unique mild, although, it will have seemed like a relic. Football has modified past all reputation since Marseille stood on most sensible of the Eu sport (although admittedly in a length during which the membership was once tainted through a match-fixing scandal). The panorama has been shifted now not most effective through the inflow of large sums from Russian oligarchs and Gulf sovereign wealth price range, but in addition through globalization, through social media, through superstar 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 attracted to folks fairly than collectives; increasingly, what issues is megastar energy, a development absolute best exemplified through Paris St.-Germain, Marseille’s maximum sour rival.

Within the French capital, P.S.G.’s Qatari backers have reworked an underperforming group right into a Eu energy through drafting in — at nice expense — probably the most most renowned names on the earth: maximum significantly, in fact, turning Neymar into the planet’s most costly participant and making Kylian Mbappé his deputy.

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