The state of Qatar, through Qatar Sport Investments, has already invested about €640m in French football or French football broadcasting in less than a year. Al Jazeera Sports, which is part of QSI, has been awarded the international distribution rights for French league football over six seasons, in a deal believed to be worth €192 million. Al Jazeera Sports also committed about €183m to secure French Champions League rights, and will pay €510m to land Ligue 1 rights for 5 years.
QSI have also paid €130m for a 70% stake in Paris St Germain.
“The Qatari invasion” to France did not start at football. The Qatari/French connection started with collaborations between corporations from the fifth largest economy in the world and Qatari companies. Companies such as Vinci, Suez and Areva are owned by both Qatari and French businessmen. Besides, the international relations between the states couldn’t be better.
Reports in France and the Arab world suggest the Qatari hunger for French football started at a 2010 November dinner in The Élysée Palace.
The dinner was attended by the current heir apparent to the throne of the State of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Also at the palace that night were Sebastien Bazin, the managing director of Colony Capital (who then owned 62.5 percent of PSG), French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Michel Platini, the president of UEFA.
Nobody really knows what was actually said during the dinner party, but everyone involved has certainly gained something since: Al Thani got Platini’s voice at the 2022 World Cup vote; Platini got almost 100% more on the Champions League rights in France; Sebastien Bazin sold his stake at PSG, and Sarkozy saw his favorite team, PSG, get a huge Qatari cash investment.
The Qatari investments are a part of the small nation’s strategy to protect itself and become a global force as can be read HERE.
Economist Muhammad Ammar recently told France’s News Channel, France24, that Qatar is now using all its money and connections to make the most out of the political chaos in the Arab world.
Ammar said: “The investments of the nation in sports are part of the nation’s economic and security strategy”.
The big question now is will the Qatari money cross the channel.
Conor O’Shea, an analyst at the Paris bureau of Kepler Capital Markets, said to “The National”: “I am sure they will at least take a look when the English Premier League rights come up again in April(…) The aim is, ultimately, to make sure Qatar is firmly on the world map, and when there are endless resources to back it up, it can make life difficult to the rest”.
You can bet your money on Qatar trying to get Premier League rights, or maybe even buying a Premier League team.
This poses another question: When will Al Thani show up for dinner at Downing 10?