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Indecent proposals

Leaving Manchester United for Riyadh’s Al-Nassr is like leaving the New York Yankees for Tainan’s Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions.

The fact that?

That is. It’s not done, unless the proposal is indecent.

Like an annual salary of 30 million?


50 million?

it’s insulting

100 million?

Not even close.

How about 287 million Canadian dollars, or 200 million euros, per season? This is the amount that Cristiano Ronaldo will receive for playing football and other related tasks in Saudi Arabia. Among these related tasks: promoting the country’s bid for the 2030 World Cup and participating in a huge public relations campaign to restore the image of this nation. A shocking deal, in many ways.

First, for the amount of the contract; 287 million Canadian dollars for thirty games a year is absurd. Excessive. Indecent. Just to pay this salary, the Al-Nassr club would have to sell 38,000 tickets for each home game, at $500 per seat. The joke ? Its stadium has only 25,000 seats.

If Al-Nassr can afford Ronaldo, it is obviously thanks to petrodollars, which are influencing various championships. Let’s not be hypocrites. Ronaldo is neither the first nor the last athlete to benefit from the generosity of the kings of black gold. The three highest-paid footballers after him, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar, play for Paris Saint-Germain, owned by the Qatari sovereign wealth fund.

In England, Manchester City (2me) and Newcastle (3me) belong to the princes of oil. Close to home, New York City FC, which defeated CF Montreal in the playoffs, is majority owned by a company with ties to the United Arab Emirates royal family.

Another disturbing fact: Ronaldo agreed to become ambassador of one of the most criminal countries in terms of human rights. I remind you that it was Saudi Arabia that imprisoned the Canadian blogger Raif Badawi for almost 10 years. It was also at a Saudi Arabian embassy that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated and then hacked to pieces. Amnesty International is calling on Cristiano Ronaldo to use his gigavette status to expose abuses by Saudi leaders.

The chances of that happening?

As weak as seeing him play one day with CF Montreal. “I want to give a different vision of this country and of football. That’s why I took advantage of this opportunity, ”he said last week.

Then, beyond the disturbing geopolitical considerations, there is a purely sporting one. That of seeing an elite player surrender to the best. It’s very disappointing. The very antithesis of competitiveness and self-transcendence.

Who among the fans wants to see a gifted dominate the lesser caliber players? Absolutely nobody.

I prefer Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in the NFL, rather than the CFL. LeBron James in the NBA, instead of Greece. Aaron Judge with the Yankees, instead of the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions. It is true that at 37 years old, Ronaldo is no longer as effective as he was in his prime. However, he is still a striker capable of making the difference in a major European championship.

His gesture is not new. Bobby Hull left the NHL for the World Hockey Association. David Beckham has left Real Madrid for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Dozens of golfers have simply preferred the Saudi riyals to the PGA. These decisions remain exceptions. Unfortunately, it is increasingly fueling the cynicism of fans towards professional sports.

CF Montreal began its training camp on Monday at the Olympic Stadium. There is no Cristiano Ronaldo here to boost ticket sales. The two rookies that everyone is talking about: coach Hernán Losada, plus the new top-quality artificial turf that has just been laid on the concrete slab of the stadium.

You will have understood that CF Montreal has not replaced Djordje Mihailovic, Alistair Johnston and Ismaël Koné with big international names, as it has done in the past. That era is over. Not here. Almost everywhere in MLS except Los Angeles, Toronto and Miami.

What changed?

The competition. The few established players who leave the major European leagues for secondary leagues, as Cristiano Ronaldo just did, tend to accept the most generous offer. And this supply is coming more and more from Asia, and less and less from North America.

Andrés Iniesta earns 25 million a year in Japan. Chinese clubs pay foreigners very well. Saudi teams too. Almost 100 players in Saudi Arabia earn more than 1 million per season. That’s a lot of additional competition for CF Montreal in the transfer market, a team leader told me.


Nathan Saliba, CF Montreal rookie

So, for now, the Montreal club is betting on the appearance of young shoots. The Icelandic international Róbert Thorkelsson, 20 years old, will he start? Will Quebec midfielder Nathan Saliba, one of the best prospects in the country, win at just 18?

I understand your frustrations. But unlike the other four major leagues in North America (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL), MLS isn’t the most competitive circuit in the world for its sport. Unless the players are overpaid, as Al-Nassr did with Ronaldo, hosting superstars will become increasingly difficult.

a controversial quote

Sandro Grande is the new head coach of CF Montreal’s reserve team. It was he who grabbed his partner Mauro Biello by the throat in 2009. He was also the one who appeared in the news, the day after the assassination attempt on Pauline Marois, in 2012, when the following statements were found on his Twitter account: “The only mistake the shooter made last night was missing his target! marois! Next time, friend! I wish ! »

Grande claimed that her account had been hacked. I dare to believe that if you handle young separatist players, you won’t call them “stupid” and “settlers” as you branded separatists in a racist, disgusting and unacceptable Facebook status posted in 2012, for which you later apologized.

Does CF Montreal really need to partner with a coach who insulted a significant proportion of Quebecers 10 years ago? It is hard for me to conceive that the benefits are greater than the damage to the image of the club.

In the notebook

Kei Kamara is still in Africa. “Sick”, according to the coach, who does not know when the striker will arrive in Montreal… Samuel Piette will arrive at camp a little later than the rest of the Canadian internationals. He will have to participate in a media tour of the MLS in California… The new grass of the Stadium? “10 out of 10”, according to Mathieu Choinière… Nothing is official yet, but CF Montreal matches are expected to be broadcast on BPM Sports this season.

#Indecent #proposals

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