It was announced by the European Club Association (ECA) that Paris Saint-Germain’s Qatari owner and CEO Nasser Al Khelaifi has been elected as the new chairman of the association. The move came after the resignation of Italian football club Juventus’ president Andrea Agnelli.
Recently, the European Football environment has been shaken by the news that the twelve “elite” European football clubs announced that they quit the UEFA organizations and established the European Super League. The announcement drew heavy reactions from football shareholders, including coaches, league administrations, and football professionals. As a matter of fact, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin heavily criticized this decision and accused those twelve clubs of getting greedy.
Amid these developments, Juventus Football Club’s President, as one of the founders of the European Super League, resigned from his position at the European Club Association. Following this move, ECA announced that Paris Saint Germain owner Qatari businessperson Nasser Al Khelaifi was appointed as the new chairman of the association.
Issuing a statement following the appointment, Al Khelaifi said that “I am honored and humbled to have been appointed by my fellow ECA Executive Board Members as Chairman. The leadership, integrity, and togetherness of our organization have never been more required than at this pivotal moment in European football.”
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin expressed his pleasure for the appointment of Al Khelaifi, saying, “Football needs good people in senior roles and Nasser is someone who has shown he is capable of looking after the interests of more clubs than just his own – which should be a prerequisite for the position of ECA chair. I look forward to working with him to shape the future of club football at a European level. He is a man I can trust.”
Paris Saint Germain was also invited to join as a founding member of the newly founded European Super League. However, Al Khelaifi rejected the invitation.
Apart from the sport aspect of this appointment, it means something more than a chairmanship for the gas-rich Gulf country, Qatar. For years, Qatar has been taking steps to improve its image in the international public opinion through investments that it made in several fields, including sport, art, and cultural activities. In this context, Qatar has hosted several international sport organizations. Besides, the Qatari business environment has invested in football clubs. The purchase of the French football club Paris Saint Germain presents the peak point of this Qatari approach. In the same direction, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will also be organized in Qatar.
On the other hand, Qatar has been criticized by several human rights associations for violating employee rights. Human rights associations have frequently made calls for football federations to boycott the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Some football professionals have raised their concerns on the matter, as well.