Pablo Longoria, retired from the presidency of OM, assured Thursday in the daily La Provence that he had not resigned, but judged that "the limits (had) been exceeded" during a very tense meeting Monday with representatives of groups of supporters. "What happened on Monday is unacceptable. (...) What happened is the consequence of things that have been happening for a long time," said the Spanish leader in a long interview, during which he also assured that he was "naturally" still the president of the Ligue 1 football club and that he had not offered his resignation to owner Frank McCourt.
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In the hours following Monday's meeting, the entire management of OM took a step back and none of the club's main leaders is present in Amsterdam, where the Provencal club will face Ajax on Thursday. Coach Marcelino, a close friend of Longoria, has left the club. "I was able to talk for two minutes, then I was cut off and it got out of hand very quickly... We were told: 'Resign all four (Longoria, director of football Javier Ribalta, general manager Pedro Iriondo and chief financial officer Stéphane Tessier, editor's note), otherwise it's war," Longoria said. "The limits have been exceeded. In 2023, a manager of any club cannot suffer these threats. I do not accept them. I was not afraid, but I was shocked, I consider that this is not normal," he added.
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The president of OM also dismissed any accusation of "cronyism" and financial embezzlement. "To protect myself, I had to ask the McCourt group (owner of the club, editor's note) to audit all our operations by an independent firm, to demonstrate that we were transparent. I gave all my bank accounts, my phones, my emails, everything... It came out that we were clean!" he explained. "I represent an institution. I have a mandate given by the owner and the supervisory board. I have to take responsibility," he said.
But, he also believed, it is "impossible to work with the current status quo" and it is necessary that "all those who love the club go in a direction that makes it become a football club that, while keeping its DNA, can operate with a minimum of normality". And Longoria evokes recent episodes, such as the departure of Jorge Sampaoli: "Sorry to say this, but when Jorge Sampaoli left, we had a very long conversation. They say I made him resign... While we continue to talk and we are close! He told me: I'm leaving, you have to go with me because they're going to pick you up. I was unconscious and didn't see the situation coming. He was talking about the system in general.»
What Igor has suffered, I do not wish on my worst enemy. He found himself in a club where everyone was against him: inside and outside.
The successor of the Argentine coach, Igor Tudor, is also quoted by Pablo Longoria in his interview: "What Igor has suffered, I do not wish it on my worst enemy. He found himself in a club where everyone was against him: inside and outside. Many people were organizing to raise the tension against him. Some people called Jorge Sampaoli to come back, others asked to give power to the players. There have been calls to fan groups to get the coach out. When I returned to Marseille, I felt that the pre-season was like the 37th day of the championship, where you play your life. This is not normal. And, again, I did not see the situation coming.»
For their part, leaders of fan groups denied Wednesday to AFP any death threat or demand for Marcelino's resignation, and asked to meet the owner of the club Frank McCourt. In 2021, the anger of supporters had swept away Jacques-Henri Eyraud, predecessor of Longoria. But the context is now totally different, Longoria maintaining a good popularity rating with a large part of Marseille supporters.