In an interaction with the Indian media present here on Thursday, Didier Quillot, CEO of the French football’s governing body (LFP), said Indian investors can consider investing in Ligue 1, while France, itself being “the best country in the world in producing youth talent”, could provide “expertise” to develop footballers in India.
"The Indians should do in France as Chinese investors have done,” he said, referring to OGC Nice being bought by a group of Chinese and American investors and Marseille being taken over by Frank McCourt, the former owner of MLB franchise Los Angeles Dodgers. These are two of the French clubs which have had a change in ownership in the last two to three years.
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He continued, “When you come to France to invest in clubs, there's a strong potential for economic growth and value. French clubs are still looking for new shareholders and we are welcoming investors from India. India is our top priority along with China and USA, because they are the three biggest countries in the world.”
Given France’s nous for producing, developing and evaluating youth talent, he said: "In terms of the quality of players, France is the world champion since 2018 and, I think, France is the best country in the world in producing youth talent.
“A few examples (like) Kylian Mbappe, even Pele said he has 'only one successor' in his mind, which is Mbappe and we all think he'll be the No. 1 player in the world after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. But we (France) also have (Antoine) Griezmann, who is a big player, (Ousmane) Dembele from Barcelona, Paul Pogba, all big players who were trained in France."
Quillot said the country could also help India develop footballers. “We (France) can bring to India expertise for academies, for managing the football [talent in the country] and bring some players through the system,” he said.
- Ligue 1 clubs need to perform better in Champions League -
Talking about the Ligue 1, Quillot said it’s growing fast in a competitive market involving English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A, but the clubs need to perform better in the Champions League and Europa League.
"In terms of results, we still need to perform better in the Champions League," he said. "PSG was beaten by Manchester United weeks ago and we (Ligue 1) are not the No. 1 league in Europe, that's clear. Our European clubs — meaning, Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon, AS Monaco, Marseille, Saint-Etienne, OGC Nice — need to perform better to increase the brand awareness of Ligue 1 outside of France,” he added.
The CEO also added that the Ligue 1 is entertaining as it produces a high percentage of goals every league match. "In terms of the quality of show and number of goals scored, last year and this year, we are averaging 2.8 goals per match, which is first or second in Europe beside the German Bundesliga."
For Quillot, the problem for Ligue 1 is the players developed in France are being scouted and bought by overseas clubs. The transfers help French clubs make profits on player sales, but affect the league's growth.
"The effect of that [players developed in France leaving for overseas clubs] is because of the economic model of France, which is not strong compared to England and Spain, the players are starting their careers in France and after, leaving for Spain or England."
(The writer is in France on the invitation of LFP)