Jean-Michel Aulas

Lyon president, Jean-Michel Aulas still wonders why France decided to end the course.

“When I see Benzema scoring more goals than ever and there’s no desire to return to football in France, I get desperate,”.

He has misjudged the fact that Ligue 1 has not done everything possible to end the championship after the coronavirus crisis.

Aulas is back with his harsh words. From the first moment, he made it clear that he was not happy with the 2019-20 season coming to an end.

“We are the laughing stock of Europe,” said Aulas in an interview with ‘EFE’ in which he directly accused the leaders of his championship of having given priority to private interests and praised the attitude of others, such as the Spanish League’s Javier Tebas.

Aulas, a football enthusiast and successful businessman, especially follows those players who, like Karim Benzema, once wore his team’s shirt.

But he doesn’t hide his “envy” of seeing how other leagues kept their cool in the worst moments of the pandemic while the French one threw in the towel “too soon”.

“To compare our leaders to Tebas would be an insult. He’s a great leader who has known how to compromise when it was necessary and speed up at the right time,” says Aulas, who has seen the precipitous end of his league lead Lyon out of Europe for the first time in 23 years.

Moreover, he believes that Thebes “has defended the clubs and has known how to negotiate with UEFA” so that football “becomes a source of motivation for the country”, which has overcome a more complicated health situation than in France.

Aulas fears that the Ligue 1 decision will leave French football “on the edge of the precipice“, with significant financial losses and a drop in the UEFA ranking, which takes them away from the four major championships and threatens to be overtaken by Portugal and Russia, who have returned to play.

“Competition with other clubs will be unfavourable to us,” says the businessman, who took over the Lyon reins 33 years ago and has made it one of Europe’s leading clubs.

His greatest hope of returning to European competition is to win the Champions League, for which he needs “a miracle”, he admits, as he will have to defend against Juventus in the first leg of the Round of 16 in order to qualify for the finals in Portugal.

“I’m going to visit Lourdes and then Fatima,” joked the manager, who believes his team were already at a disadvantage against Juve, who have a better squad, but now “they’re even more so, because they’ll have a sporting chance.

Lyon, whose financial losses are estimated at 100 million this season, will miss out on another 90 million next season if they don’t play in Europe, a situation that makes them fear an exodus of players.

Among them is the young Brazilian Bruno Guimaraes, who arrived last January and has grown a lot sportily, which has opened the doors of the ‘Canarinha’.

Aulas is convinced that he will receive offers for him, but hopes are high that he will remain on the banks of the Rhone.


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