Pablo Longoria, retired from the presidency of Olympique de Marseille (OM), ured, Thursday September 21, in the daily Provencethat he had not resigned, but judged that ” limits [avaient] been exceeded » during a very tense meeting on Monday with representatives of supporter groups.
“What happened on Monday is unacceptable. (…) What happened is the consequence of things that have been happening for a long time.”declared the Spanish leader in a long interview, during which he also ured that he was “naturally” still the president of the Ligue 1 football club and that he had not offered his resignation to the owner, Frank McCourt.
In the hours following Monday’s meeting, the entire OM management took a step back and none of the club’s main leaders are present in Amsterdam, where the Provençal club will face Ajax in the Europa League on Thursday, and Paris Saint-Germain, in Ligue 1. Coach Marcelino, a close friend of Longoria, for his part left the club.
“I wasn’t scared, but I was shocked”
“I was able to speak for two minutes, then I was cut off and things got out of control very quickly… We were told: “All four of us resign [Longoria, le directeur du football ; Javier Ribalta, le directeur général, Pedro Iriondo ; et le directeur financier, Stéphane Tessier]otherwise it’s war”Longoria reported. “In 2023, a manager of any club cannot suffer these threats. I don’t accept them. I wasn’t scared, but I was shocked. I don’t think this is normal.”he added.
The president of OM also dismissed any accusation of “cronyism” and financial embezzlement. “To protect myself, I had to ask the McCourt group [propriétaire du club] to audit all our operations by an independent firm, to demonstrate that we were transparent. I gave away all my bank accounts, my phones, my emails, everything… It turned out we were clean! »he explained.
“I represent an institution. I have a mandate given by the owner and the supervisory board. I must ume my responsibilities”, he also said. But he is “impossible to work with the current status quo” and it is necessary that “all those who love the club move in a direction that makes it become a football club, which, while keeping its DNA, can function with a minimum of normality”.
The crisis was accelerated by the pressure put on the next day by those responsible for OM supporters’ ociations. On Monday, the ultra leaders met the Marseille staff at the Commanderie training center. In the general opinion of the participants, the interview was stormy, and the management of the president, Pablo Longoria, clearly indicted. The manager of the South Winners and controversial figure at Stade-Vélodrome, Rachid Zeroual, requested the resignation of the four main leaders present. According to RMC, it was upon learning of the brutality of this meeting that the coach, Marcelino, would have mentioned his possible departure in front of his players.
Contacted by The world, the South Winners deny having threatened the death of Marseille leaders. A version confirmed by several other leaders of the groups present on site. But by demanding the departure of the president, Pablo Longoria, and his main collaborators, the representatives of the Marseille ultra groups know that they are bringing the weight of a possible violent reaction.
“Le Monde” deciphers the news and the challenges of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In 2021, the anger of the supporters had carried away Jacques-Henri Eyraud, predecessor of Longoria. But the context today is completely different, Longoria retaining a good popularity rating with a large part of Marseille supporters.
The World with AFP