How Mbappé’s Renewal Became a State Issue in France and Qatar

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How Mbappé’s Renewal Became a State Issue in France and Qatar

At Real Madrid’s Spanish title party, a jubilant Florentino Pérez celebrated the unlikely season. The team had won the national league with a big advantage. It was also qualified for the Champions League final. The 17th time the team reached the most important game of the year.

“Who knows? I think it could happen”, said the manager with an undisguised smile, about the signing of Kylian Mbappé, 23, the jewel in the crown of French world champion football, the most valuable name of a Paris Saint-Germain that also there’s Neymar and Lionel Messi.

It was the least well-kept secret on the market. The striker’s contract was about to end and he would go to Madrid. It was the dream of the club and of him who, as a boy, had a poster in his room of Cristiano Ronaldo with the white shirt and the number 7 on his back.

Pérez did not know, but negotiations were underway that would see Mbappé renew for three seasons with PSG. Conversations that involved tortuous negotiations, a president of the Republic, an Arab emir, a World Cup and the biggest contract in the history of football.

The result was a considerable blow to the Spanish league, accusations of financial dishonesty, complaints and a new rivalry in Europe.

“I hope they [do Real Madrid] understand that I have decided to remain in my country. I want to stay here. I have enormous respect for Real and I understand that they are disappointed,” Mbappé apologized in an interview to announce his renewal until 2025. He promised to cheer for the Spaniards this Saturday (28), when they face Liverpool in the Champions League final. .

Real Madrid should have realized something was wrong even before the national title party. A week earlier, Mbappé had traveled to Doha, the capital of Qatar. The explanation received by the leaders was that it was just a commercial commitment. Sponsorship thing.

PSG is owned by Qatar Sports Investment, a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, controlled by Emir Tamin bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The guideline was simple: the team that hosts this year’s World Cup, a nation committed to changing its image, could not lose one of the tournament’s biggest star contenders.

The operation to keep Mbappé in Paris began. French President Emmanuel Macron also interfered with the striker to stay.

“Yes, we talked and he gave me good advice. When you are a national figure, there are rights and duties and we have to assume everything we are as a player and a man”, explained the player, confirming the influence of the politician.

In the marketing plan presented, it will be emphasized in PSG campaigns that Mbappé, a local boy, born in the 19th arrondissements of Paris (the city is divided into 20 administrative regions) has become the star of national football and playing for the club in the capital.

His salary will be around 1 million euros per week (R$ 5.1 million at the current rate). It is R$ 245.6 million per year, the largest in the history of football. He will also keep a percentage of the image exploited by the team in commercial actions.

The renovation caused a mixture of disappointment and anger in Madrid. The version most accepted by the press aligned with Real was that the player and his mother and manager, Fayza Lamari, had already pledged the words that the star would play in Spain next season.

Fayza denies that this happened and took to Twitter to challenge journalists who claimed otherwise.

It was also a blow for those in charge of Spanish football. Since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real for Juventus (2018) and Messi left Barcelona to defend PSG (2021), LaLiga has been without a global star. The hope was that this would be Mbappé.

In the last three leagues, the gap between the revenue of Premier League clubs and LaLiga, the two most profitable European national tournaments, has increased. In 2019-2020, interrupted for a few months by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 20 elite English teams had a combined revenue of US$ 5.4 billion (R$ 25.9 billion at the current price) against US$ 3.3 billion. billion of Spaniards (R$ 15.8 billion).

This season, which ended this month, the estimate is that the Premier League reached US$ 6.4 billion (R$ 30.7 billion). Spain is at US$ 3.6 billion (R$ 17.3 billion).

Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga, called Mbappé’s renewal an “insult” to football. He also said PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is as “dangerous as the Superliga”.

“LaLiga wants to make it clear that this type of agreement attacks the economic stability of European football, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs and the integrity of the sport at risk, not only in European competitions but in domestic leagues,” reads a statement released by LaLiga. entity that promised to lodge a complaint with UEFA.

The complaint is that under the Financial Fair Play rule, that clubs cannot spend more than they earn, PSG would never have the resources to renew Mbappé’s contract. The team reported losses of 220 million euros (R$ 1.1 billion at the current price) in 2021 and accumulated losses of 700 million euros (R$ 3.6 billion) in previous seasons.

PSG know how to deal with this type of problem. In order to have Mbappé in 2017, the same year he paid 222 million euros (R$1.13 billion in current money), to sign Neymar from Barcelona, ​​he made a deal with Monaco. He took the striker on loan and promised to pay 180 million euros (R$922 million) the following season to have him permanently.

The open complaint of Tebas and veiled of other managers in Europe is that PSG relies on questionable sponsorship contracts, in which the source of money is, after all, the same Qatari government that owns the club. The accusation is also made against Manchester City, belonging to the UAE’s royal family.

The background is the accusation of sportswashing, autocratic states with little respect for democracy and human rights that use investments in football teams as a geopolitical strategy. The last example was Newcastle, in England, bought by a company linked to the Saudi Arabian royal family.

“I think it’s a good thing that Ligue 1 [nome do Campeonato Francês] is better than LaLiga, which is not the same as it was three or four years ago. We have the best player in the world and that’s all that matters to us.”

It’s another victory for him over Pérez. The influence of PSG and its president were fundamental to burying (at least for now) the Superliga, a project that Real Madrid was one of the biggest enthusiasts. The Spanish club went to court to keep the plan alive. The consequence of this was the growth of Al-Khelaifi’s influence in UEFA and the association of clubs on the continent.

It was also a huge financial gamble that paid off. Last season, Real Madrid offered 160 million euros for Mbappé (R$819.6 million today), who had only one year left on his contract. PSG said no despite rumors that the striker was already looking for a home in the Spanish capital. He argued that he still owed 36 million euros (R$ 184.4 million) to Monaco for the purchase of the ace.

The bet was that she would, in the end, convince him to stay. He was successful thanks to the help of president, emir, marketing plan, promise that in the future he can fulfill his dream of going to Real Madrid and money. A lot of money.

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