Neither the giant tifo displayed in the park nor the overoptimistic communication campaign have managed to turn the tide for the Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) after the football club bowed out of the Champions League.
Three weeks after its unfortunate 3-1 loss to Santiago at Bernabeu in the first leg, the Parisian club was once again tamed by Real Madrid’s Christiano Ronaldo, who scored three goals against them in two games.
The match was played in the presence of Qatar’s ruling family despite claims that the Gulf boycott had limited its movements.
Qatar’s current Emir Sheikh Tamim al-Thani was accompanied by his father, the former emir Sheikh Hamad al-Thani who was seen ailing as he used a walking stick to aid him.
Tamim shared the same space with other celebrities during the night, including supermodel Bella Hadid and former football star David Beckham.
Experts have criticized Qatar’s ruling family for paying more attention to their foreign endeavors in the world of sports and arts while their economy in Doha faces setbacks.
Earlier this week, Qatar shares were down 0.9 percent in early trade, with two of its biggest stocks going ex-dividend.
Industries Qatar plunged 5.3 percent and telecom firm Ooredoo dropped 2.4 percent as both went ex-dividend.
Saudi Foreign Minister, earlier last month, reminded observers at the European Parliament that Qatar “is not only PSG” when asked about perceptions of the Gulf country from the West in comparison to the Middle East.
This is in contrast to the year 1993 when the club had a dream run against Real Madrid. It scored a 4-1 victory, in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup, following a 3-1 setback in the first leg.
Last year The club won against Barcelona in Paris, but when they travelled to Barcelona, they lost by six goals.
For decision makers at PSG, this has been a painful journey. Since its acquisition in 2011 by the Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), the club has not managed to reach the last leg of Champions League, which was set as the minimum target this season, according to French Newspaper Le Monde.
This has been nightmarish for investors in Doha who continue to face chronic misfortunes on the continental chessboard.
PSG’s objective is to win European championship before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Instead they are having to endure the club’s ignominious loss against Barça, loss of Champions League TV rights (for 2018-2021) by the Qatari BeIN Sports channel to SFR Altice group, Patrick Drahi and the diplomatic isolation of his country.
Publicity and transfers
Faced with the boycott by its Gulf neighbors, the club decided in 2017 to create a splash and spend around $800 million on publicity alone.
PSG executives invested 417 million euros in the transfer market to enlist top players including Neymar, who became the world’s most expensive player (for EUR 222 million) and the French prodigy Kylian Mbappé (180 million euros).
Three times winner of the Champions League, Brazilian Daniel Alves, 34, was also drafted to bring his winning culture and experience to the team. Politically, the staff of the club was turned upside down with the arrival of a new sports director, the Portuguese Antero Henrique, ex-chief recruiter of FC Porto and a widely networked man.
But it is clear that the fat salaries and the very ambitious strategy have not borne much fruit on the football arena for the club. With this fiasco against Real Madrid, PSG seems to be attracting the tag of eternal loser.
“It does not call into question our investment strategy. We believe in our players. We want to continue our project,” said Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, who will have to find a successor to Unai Emery this summer.
Despite Neymar’s recruitment as commercial showcase and flag bearer of the European ambitions for the club, the PSG has experienced an annus horribilis, according to Le Monde.
In addition to the injury, at the worst moment, to its star player and procrastination around the medical diagnosis, the Paris club’s camp has faced multiple disappointing developments.
Since September 2017, it has been subjected to questions by the Financial Control Commission of clubs under the fair-financial-play (FPF) rules. To escape a possible sanction, it will have to generate 75 million euros of revenue by June 30, date of closing of its accounts.
PSG will also not be able to count on the (13 million euros) which was expected in case of qualification for the Champions League quarter, under the endowment of UEFA and spin-offs related to the ticketing, television rights and marketing.