All French football is stopped. Or almost. If Strasbourg and Rennes have timidly resumed training, there is one that has done more than redouble their efforts in recent weeks. Nearly a month after the Professional Football League formalized the final end of the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons, the president of Olympique Lyonnais is even more and more offensive.
After having multiplied the tackles leaning against LFP leaders, Jean-Michel Aulas split on Monday from an open letter to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and to the Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu in the hope of ending the season.
Arguing that “the hasty decision contrary to UEFA’s recommendations not to resume” or that “certain club presidents directly favored by a stoppage of the Championship” have rejected “the responsibility for the judgment on the government”, he asked “to rectify the error concerning French football. “
“It was Edouard Philippe who rang the end of the game”
His idea ? That June 2, “with a health protocol used everywhere”, be “the starting point for a progressive resumption of training and, why not, a resumption of the championships for the 2019-2020 season in July or August, as UEFA specifically suggested on April 21. “
Does the exit of the president of Lyon reveal the real responsibilities or is it only guided by the classification which deprives his club of European Cup next season for the first time in 23 years? According to Sylvain Kastendeuch, “it was Edouard Philippe, by his declaration to the National Assembly (April 28), which sounded the end of the game, it’s as simple as that”, assures the vice-president of the ‘UNFP, the players’ union.
“Don’t ask me why it fell at that time and why it was so radical,” he said, “but we had to accept this wise injunction. Me, it seems to me that it is the poor health conditions and the not very encouraging prospects, the fragility of the situation, which mainly guided his decision, that also of the public authorities. It is a real, well thought out political decision. “
A decision motivated by the health aspect
On April 30, when the LFP’s decision to stop everything came down, pessimism was in the majority. If it has been strongly criticized for having been the first president of L1 to evoke on April 3 a stoppage of the championship, one forgets that many have little by little sided with the position of Brestois Denis Le Saint. Within the clubs, many players have raised their concerns to resume the season. The UNFP has published a survey to this effect. The medical recovery protocol also frightened many.
Behind the scenes, exchanges and negotiations are increasing. Given his proximity to Emmanuel Macron, Pierre Ferracci, who is rather in favor of a judgment, is accused of lobbying. The president of Paris FC speaks of “fantasies” and points out his colleagues who “put pressure on the ministry and the government with erroneous and outlandish financial and health arguments”. The division of presidents and the weakness of the League do not help to adopt a unanimous and strong position against the Elysee.
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From a source close to the government, we assure that the decision is primarily motivated by the health aspect. The protocol proposed around a resumption of professional football activities is incompatible with scientific recommendations and the health doctrine desired by the president, who does not intend to make distinctions between the French.
Macron shared with Deschamps
Above all, the clubs and the authorities all ask to have a maximum of readability quickly to prepare for the future and not to plumb the next exercise. If Emmanuel Macron spoke on the phone with Didier Deschamps and, above all, with Noël Le Graët, the day before Edouard Philippe’s intervention, it was to warn the president of the FFF of his decision.
But Olivier Blanc, ex-deputy DG of OL and close to Jean-Michel Aulas, does not budge. If, for him, “the decision was too hasty”, it is because the League presented only one scenario of recovery: the one who saw, as UEFA recommended, the domestic competitions end before August 3 to notably give way to the Champions League and the Europa League.
“Except that the date of August 3 was not a UEFA directive but a recommendation, insists the former leader of Lyon, stating that it is important that the championships end in sports merit even if it means changing the formats. Information from UEFA arrived truncated at the ministry. “
A motivation refuted in the mysteries of the LFP. This explains that further delaying the resumption – and therefore the term – of the ten remaining league days would not only have been an obstacle for PSG and Lyon involved in the Champions League, but would also have had an impact on the health of players brought to restart the following season, marked by a Euro in the summer of 2021, without the slightest pause.
“We didn’t give football a chance to resume”
“In view of what is happening in Germany (where the Bundesliga has resumed for ten days) or in Spain (where the Liga is to resume on June 12), we are able to resume if we study and give ourselves time, however, supports Olivier Blanc. Football is not just a spectacle, a pleasure, but an economic activity. We didn’t give football a chance to start again. “
Not sure if he has it again. However, this Thursday, Michel Savin, senator from Isère, will table two amendments to the bill aimed at adopting emergency measures: a first to allow leagues and federations to resume, if they wish, their professional competitions for the 2019-2020 season. The second to request an opinion from the scientific council as of June 30 on the resumption of the 2020-2021 season for the amateur and pro championships and to consider welcoming the public. This should give Jean-Michel Aulas something to chew on.