Mbappé, Pogba, Dembélé… The market for free players is upsetting the football economy

Unheard of in recent football history. Since the opening of the winter transfer window, the first day of the new year, the best player on the planet, in the eyes of many observers, is free to engage with the club of his choice. Kylian Mbappé seems determined not to wait until the end of his contract, on June 30, to decide on his next destination, despite the insistent court of Paris Saint-Germain to keep him.

Consequence: the French prodigy will then be able to join any club without the latter needing to pay a penny in favor of Paris Saint-Germain to offer his services. The player going to the end of his commitment, his suitor does not need to pay transfer compensation to redeem the remaining years of contract.

Mbappé, Pogba, Dembele and other stars

Until very recently, this market for free players was reserved for less successful professional footballers, struggling to find an employer at the end of their fixed-term contract. We also came across former glories in search of an ultimate sporting challenge.

Now it’s some of the best active players who are making their mark there. From French internationals Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembélé and Hugo Lloris to the Croatian Ballon d’Or Luka Modric, or even the Argentine star of Juventus Turin, Paulo Dybala: all will be free next June.

Economic crisis

How to explain this evolution ? “The clubs are facing great financial difficulties”, answers Mickael Terrien, professor of sports economics at the University of Lausanne. Hard hit by the health crisis, “they can no longer afford these great players”, continues the economist. Few, for example, were the European teams able to pay the 200 million euros requested for Kylian Mbappé last summer, or to meet the requirements of Ousmane Dembélé, whose salary at FC Barcelona reaches 20 million euros annually.

Seduced by all the biggest clubs of the Old Continent, these star players also know that they are not likely to find themselves unemployed at the end of their contract. “The player who goes to the end of his contract can not only choose his club but also maximize his income on signing”, explains Stéphane Canard, agent at CLK Foot and president of the union of French sports agents (Uasf). The buyer does not have to pay a transfer fee, he uses part of this sum to attract the desired player with bigger bonuses for him and his entourage.

Philippe Piat, former footballer and president of the French professional players’ union, welcomes this market development “Sometimes players signed contracts to be sold for more three weeks later. The contract was used to create a financial asset when its original purpose was to protect the players. »

The players in power

This new phenomenon is however not without consequence on the economy of football. In the medium term, the market for free players calls into question the economic strategy on which many clubs are based. “In France, most clubs live beyond their means and hope to bail out three or four years of deficit thanks to a big sale”, details the economist Mickael Terrien.

It remains to be seen whether this development will be long-term or whether it is a temporary phenomenon. According to Mickael Terrien, this will depend on the global economic context in the aftermath of the health crisis. “A few years after the subprime crisis, which also hit club finances hard, transfer prices have reached new records. » And, more specifically, income from television rights: “If these amounts stagnate, clubs will still find it difficult to afford the most expensive players. »

This new deal also testifies to the empowerment of star players in the relationship with their club. Sure of their sporting and marketing potential, they no longer hesitate to complete their contract, despite pressure from their employer to extend or sell them while there is still time. Leonardo, sporting director of Paris Saint-Germain, in the columns of JDD on December 19, thus declaring that Kylian Mbappé had “still good possibilities to extend”. A call from the foot that sounds like wishful thinking.


Paul Pogba tempted by PSG

Like Kylian Mbappé, his teammate in the France team, Paul Pogba is also free to engage with the club of his choice. Rather inclined to extend his contract with Manchester United last fall, the world champion now has desires elsewhere. Often injured, the 28-year-old midfielder has never been able to fully satisfy his leaders, who had paid 110 million euros to bring him back to the north of England in 2016. The native of Seine-et-Marne would be tempted by the Paris Saint-Germain project, very interested in repatriating a player estimated at 80 million euros for free last summer.



Tennis: Novak Djokovic loses appeal and leaves Australia

The decision definitively buries Novak Djokovic’s hopes of winning a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open which begins on Monday January 17. The Australian Federal Court on Sunday rejected the appeal of the 34-year-old Serbian tennis player against his expulsion from the country, ordered by the government which considered that the world number one, not vaccinated against Covid-19, represented a “health risk”.

→ CONTEXT. Novak Djokovic returned to detention in Australia

At midday, Novak Djokovic left Melbourne on a flight to Dubai. “Extremely disappointed” by the Court’s decision on his expulsion, he had a few hours earlier said in a statement that he respected the verdict and was preparing to leave the country.

“Civil Unrest”

Allowed to leave the detention center where he was placed on Saturday, Novak Djokovic followed the hearing online, which lasted four hours, from the offices of his lawyers in Melbourne.

In his conclusions filed on Saturday before the Court, the Minister of Immigration Alex Hawke had maintained that the presence of Novak Djokovic in the country was “likely to represent a health risk”. According to him, she encouraged “anti-vaccination sentiment” and could deter Australians from getting their booster shots, as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country. The presence in Australia of the champion could even “lead to an upsurge in civil unrest”, added the minister.

→ READ. Antivax, esotericism and mysterious pyramid: Novak Djokovic, follower of pseudosciences

Although he had described the risk of the player himself infecting Australians as “negligible”, the Minister had estimated that his “contempt” Passing health rules against Covid was a bad example.

Sufficient evidence

Sunday before the Court, the tennis player’s lawyers described the detention of their client and his possible expulsion as“illogical”, “irrational” and “unreasonable”.

The government “don’t know what Novak Djokovic’s opinions are at the moment”, pleaded lawyer Nick Wood, saying that his client has never publicly supported the anti-vaccination movement.

Government lawyer Stephen Lloyd responded that the champion’s failure to be vaccinated nearly two years into the pandemic and his repeated disregard of health rules, including failing to isolate when he knew he was infected, constituted sufficient proof of his position.

This twisty soap opera took place in a country whose inhabitants have endured for almost two years some of the strictest anti-Covid restrictions in the world, and where elections are scheduled for May. Hence a charged political context. Pressure had intensified in recent days around Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accused of“incompetence” by the Labor opposition.

“A loss for tennis”

The Australian government thus welcomed its legal victory on Sunday. ‘Australia’s strong border protection policy has kept us safe during the pandemic’, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a statement. “Australians have made great sacrifices to get here and the Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting this position” he added.

→ ANALYSIS. The Djokovic case raises the question of the vaccination status of athletes

In Serbia, where Novak Djokovic is revered and considered a national hero, Australia’s decision unsurprisingly went down badly. “They humiliated themselves, Djokovic can return to his country with his head held high and look everyone straight in the eye”, President Aleksandar Vucic got carried away about the Australian leaders.

The ATP, which manages the men’s professional circuit, estimated for its part that the decision of the Australian justice “put an end to a series of deeply regrettable events”. “Judicial decisions on public health issues must be respected”, she added, recalling that she “continues to strongly recommend vaccination to all players”. Before recalling that Djokovic “is one of the greatest champions in our sport and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for tennis”.



Novak Djokovic returned to detention in Australia

The soap opera of the participation of the Serbian tennis player in the Australian Open continues, Saturday, January 15, with his return to administrative detention in the Melbourne hotel used by the government to retain people in an irregular situation. He had been placed there previously before being released on Monday, January 10.

In his pleadings filed in court on Saturday, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke argued that Novak Djokovic’s presence in the country was “likely to pose a health risk to the Australian community”. According to him, the position of the player could encourage “anti-vaccination sentiment” and dissuade Australians from getting their booster shots, or even “lead to an upsurge in civil unrest “.

A bad example for Australians

The minister thus canceled Djokovic’s visa for the second time on Friday, January 14, by virtue of his discretionary power, invoking “ health and public order reasons », and considering that the « contempt Djokovic’s past with regard to health rules against the Covid was a bad example.

The Australian government launched deportation proceedings against the Serbian star earlier this week, which were unsuccessful after a judge blocked Djokovic’s deportation, reinstated his visa and ordered his immediate release.

Two days before the opening of the Australian Open, the participation of the Serb, who was to face his compatriot Miomir Kekmanovic on Monday in the first round, now seems unlikely.

Rafael Nadal annoyed

Novak Djokovic had been blocked on his arrival in Australia on January 5 and placed in administrative detention for the first time. The player, who contracted Covid-19 in December, hoped to be granted an exemption to enter the country without being vaccinated, which was not accepted by the authorities. This twisty soap opera takes place in a country whose inhabitants have endured some of the strictest health restrictions in the world for almost two years, and where elections are scheduled for May.

The Djokovic case is also followed assiduously in Serbia where “Nole is considered a national hero. On Friday, President Aleksandar Vucic accused Australia of “to mistreat “.

The other players preparing for the tournament no longer hide their annoyance and weariness. “The Australian Open is more important than any player” And this “will be a great Australian Open with or without him”, declared the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, one of the three superstars of world tennis, alongside Djokovic and the Swiss Roger Federer.



Tennis: Australia cancels Novak Djokovic’s visa again

The Australian visa of tennis world number one Novak Djokovic, who entered the country without being vaccinated against Covid-19, has been canceled for the second time, announced Friday January 14 the Minister of Immigration, Alex Hawke. This decision was made “on health and public order grounds”, the minister said in a statement. The Australian government “is strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic”, he added.

→ READ. Antivax, esotericism and mysterious pyramid: Novak Djokovic, follower of pseudo-sciences

This second visa cancellation implies that the Serbian player, who was aiming for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open which begins on Monday January 17, will be banned from entering the country for three years, except in certain circumstances.

Australian authorities also intend to order the return of the world number one in detention as of Saturday morning, government lawyer Stephen Lloyd announced on Friday. The government wants the Serb to be released from detention only to attend, in the offices of his lawyers and under the supervision of border police officers, the online court hearings concerning his case, the lawyer said .

Djokovic will not be expelled from Australia until justice has been finally pronounced, had previously assured Stephen Lloyd during a hearing before a judge in Melbourne. This Victorian judge, Anthony Kelly, announced on Friday that he was relinquishing responsibility in favor of Australian federal justice, despite the objections of the player’s lawyers who said they feared a slowdown in the procedure.

Novak Djokovic was training for the tournament

The 34-year-old’s visa had already been canceled for the first time on January 5 when he arrived in Melbourne, and Novak Djokovic was then placed in a detention center for deportation.

→ REREAD. The Djokovic case raises the question of the vaccination status of athletes

The tennis player’s lawyers had however won a resounding victory on January 10, obtaining from a judge that he restore his visa and order his immediate release. Since then, Novak Djokovic has been training for the tournament, and was due to face his compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic, 78, in the first round.and world player.

But the Minister of Immigration retained the possibility of canceling the visa again under his discretionary power.



African Cup of Nations: the crazy team of the Comoros

They are there and it’s amazing: the players of the Comoros, with the gratin of continental football for this African Cup of Nations in Cameroon, representing for the first time their small archipelago of 850,000 inhabitants, a real feat. Defeated by Gabon for their entry into the competition (1-0), they face Morocco this Friday, January 14 with the firm intention of showing that they are not “not here by chance”, insists their coach Amir Abdou.

→ REREAD. CAN 2022: figures of African football denounce the contempt of which the competition would be the victim

He knows well, the master at playing, what they went through to be able to jump into the big leagues. An incredible outfit combining determination, consistency, friendships and the fervor of an entire people. A rare story, written out of nothingness and with uncertain ink.

The incredible energy of coach Amir Abdou

Because what are the Comoros on the football planet, when the adventure begins in 2014? The microstate vaguely has a national team recognized by the International Federation (Fifa) only in 2005, and at the bottom of the hole in the early 2010s. Due to lack of money, the team cannot participate in the playoffs of the CAN 2013. For two years, the Comoros therefore disappear from the international circuit.

To rebuild on this nothing, the local Federation hopes to recruit Henri Stambouli, ex-trainer of Marseille in the 1990s. Except that the negotiations fall apart at the last moment. And so here is on the track the one who was to play the assistants, Amir Abdou. A former amateur player forced to put away his crampons due to injuries, the Franco-Comorian, who lives in the south-west of France, converted to an educator, and then coaches an honorary division team (sixth level national). At the same time, he exercises his profession as a territorial civil servant in the youth service of his small town of Bon-Encontre, near Agen (Lot-et-Garonne).

Amir Abdou therefore finds himself almost by default embarked on a project which he will completely take over, with mad energy. To rebuild the selection from A to Z, he is betting on the French diaspora and the very large community, established mainly in the Marseille region. It is still necessary to convince these dual nationals to try the adventure. But he knows how to find the words, and make the conquered troops stay.

Crazy proportions

The results help, the selection going from 193and at 127and world rank in three years. Corn “It’s a permanent fight”, says the coach. And with inevitably reduced means in one of the poorest countries in the world. He himself is only employed by the Federation from 2017. He must struggle to structure a framework worthy of players accustomed to European standing, even if it is that of the lower divisions. The Federation does not have an equipment supplier? A local brand is created, Maana Sport, which supplies free of charge, without a real contract.

And the case progresses, with ups and downs. On the archipelago, the enthusiasm for breeding is taking on crazy proportions. For the worse sometimes. During the CAN 2017 qualifying campaign, after missing the equalizing penalty against Uganda, the players left the stadium under stones. “Hell, summarizes Amir Abdou in an interview with the Bal des productions press agency. But we hung on. »

So comes the best, often. On the second day of qualifying for the current CAN, the Comoros won, in their new Malouzini stadium in Moroni financed by Chinese capital, an unexpected 0-0 draw against the Egyptian giant. The crowd massed in the stands, filled to double the capacity of the enclosure, surges onto the lawn. The announcer screams to ask for the evacuation, arguing for a possible cancellation of the result. In less than three minutes, the supporters wisely resume their place in the stands!

popular fervor

Above all, we must not hinder the march of national heroes who will qualify a few months later, triggering incredible popular jubilation. The team pleases all the more that it does not crown any star. Bonus to the collective, with 17 players out of 28 playing in France. “This group is above all a family before being a football team”, underlined the sports director Djamal Mohamed before the start of the CAN. The subject is not overused.

And the team, which has reached maturity (28 years on average), hopes to establish itself in the landscape. After two years without an equipment supplier, a new Italian partner (Macron Sports) is at its side for four years, and a new federal management is thinking about a more sustainable development, allowing to convince even more dual nationals to join the “Cœlacanthes”, the nickname of the selection. They are there, and maybe for a long time.


The Gambia, the other novice

In 2019, Burundi, Mauritania and Madagascar discovered the event, with happiness for Madagascar which climbed for its first until the quarter-finals (eliminated by Tunisia 3-0). This year, alongside the Comoros, it is Gambia which also plays the novices. Like the Coelacanths, the Scorpions owe their qualification to the patient work of recruiting a workforce, of which 27 of the 28 players play abroad, entrusted since 2018 to Belgian technician Tom Saintfiet, a frequent traveler on the continent (passed through Namibia, Ethiopia, Malawi and Togo). Winner of the first match against Mauritania (1-0) this Wednesday, January 12, Gambia, 150and in the FIFA rankings, will have a lot to do to qualify against Mali (January 16) and Tunisia (January 20).



Euro handball: Guillaume Gille guides the Blues to the top

A short defeat before flying to the European Championships. The French handball team lost a small goal (35-34) against Germany, Sunday January 9 in Wetzlar, during their only preparation match for the Euro, which takes place in Hungary and Slovakia from January 13 to 30.

If the second half can leave regrets to Nikola Karabatic and his teammates, the setback did not shake the serenity of coach Guillaume Gille. “We are here to continue working and making sure we are ready to start the Euro”, estimated the coach, realistic but confident a few days before their entry into competition, Thursday, January 13, against Croatia.

A blue at the head of the Blues

Coach of the Blues for barely two years, the former center-half with 308 selections is now unanimous among his players. A dazzling but also surprising grip: “Gino” had never found himself at the head of a very high level team before taking the reins of the France team.

“Guillaume’s choice was not the most obvious, remembers Philippe Bana, president of the French Handball Federation. He had very little experience while others clamored for a tactician to lead the team. The players themselves wondered about this choice. “

FACTS. Tokyo Olympics: the French handball team achieves a historic Olympic treble

It took him well: just a few months after his arrival on the bench, Guillaume Gille was already leading the Blues to the top of world handball. Despite a preparation very thwarted by the health crisis, the Drômois and his men won a new Olympic title by triumphing over their Danish rivals on Japanese soil. The third, after the successes of 2008 and 2012. In those years, “Gino” was on the floor, ball in hand and blue jersey on his back.

Big brother role

The task was difficult, however. After the Euro 2020 fiasco – elimination of France in the first round to everyone’s surprise – the team had to be completely rebuilt. “The France team had lost its way, reminds Philippe Bana. The group was in small pieces. “ Hence the idea of ​​calling on Guillaume Gille, then assistant to Didier Dinart: “More than a tactician, the France team needed a big brother, someone who embodied the spirit and values ​​of a France team which had dominated its sport for several years. “

→ READ. Handball World Cup 2021: the French lose in the final against Norway

Mario Cavalli knows Guillaume Gille well for having coached him upon his arrival in Chambéry in 1994. He is not surprised to see him shine in his new costume: “Guillaume has always been a unifier. He was close to the staff and passed instructions to the players. “ An ability to supervise that Philippe Bana had also detected very early on in the player: “When I first met him before the Sydney Games in 2000, I immediately noticed that he was showing a height of vision that was unmatched by the other players. “

participating management

An altruistic player who listens to his teammates, Guillaume Gille continues to make the collective a cardinal value. These principles are embodied in a form of participatory management, inherited, in part, from his predecessor Claude Onesta. The coach has thus established “game advice”, limited meetings with senior players to collectively determine the team’s game plan. He also relies on the authority of elders, such as Nikola Karabatic, with whom he wrote the most beautiful pages of French handball.

As idyllic as his debut at the head of the Blues may be, Guillaume Gille now faces a major challenge: winning the Euro and imitating the “Experts”, the only French team to have won a major title directly after the conquest. Olympic laurels. “In handball, winning the Euro is even harder than winning the Olympics given the density of the participating teams”, observes Mario Cavalli.

Proof that sporting performances still serve as the ultimate justice of the peace, Didier Dinart did not survive the rout of 2020, despite a world champion title in 2017 and two bronze medals obtained at the European and European Championships. world the following two years. “At this level, it is the results that validate the coach’s method”, warns Mario Cavalli. Double European champion as a player in 2006 and 2010, Guillaume Gille knows the path to follow.


Many absences

Opposed to Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine in Group C, the France team is entering the competition despite the absence of some of its best elements. The captains Nedim Remili and Luka Karabatic are both forfeited due to injury. Just like left-back Timothey N’Guessan.

Elohim Prandi is still recovering after being the victim of a knife attack on New Year’s Eve. Last annoyance for Guillaume Gille, the positive test of Captain Valentin Porte. “We have a good depth of workforce, which we want to make full use of”, however reassured the coach.



Figure skating: Bruno Massot, the battered course of a champion on ice

At the time of the European Championships, which begin this Wednesday, January 12 in Estonia, the French skaters are under no illusion: the podium hopes are almost non-existent in the absence of the star couple of ice dance Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who preferred to ignore the competition so as not to risk contamination with Covid-19 within a month of the Beijing Olympics.

→ ANALYSIS. Beijing Winter Olympics: athletes anticipate the Games under cover

This zero point on the medal table reflects the state of hexagonal skating under reconstruction. On the side of Normandy in particular, where, however, a beautiful story has been told in recent months: that of Bruno Massot, the native of the country who went to gild his reputation in Germany, Olympic champion under the Germanic flag in 2018 at the PyeongChang Games, back today in his club in Caen with a project in line with the desire for federal renovation. The realization of a dream, which took very devious ways to come true.

Olympic gold for Germany

First fork in 2014. Bruno Massot flies to Germany, to join the skater with whom he wants to relaunch, Aljona Savchenko. Leaving his long-standing club, the Caen sports and leisure artist (Acsel), was not the first idea. With his trainer Jean-François Ballester, Bruno Massot was thinking rather of bringing his future partner to France. Except that the French Ice Sports Federation is dragging its feet. On the contrary, his German counterpart offers the champion all the facilities to move. “The difference was huge, and I first thought about my career”, says the skater.

Bruno Massot settles across the Rhine. Jean-François Ballester, after twenty years of service in Caen, set out to found a high-level training center in Switzerland, while continuing to coach his foal. Four years later, the consecration. It was written ? Not really. “For eighteen months, the French Federation refused to release me, emphasizes Bruno Massot. I trained, but without the possibility of competing. I was living on € 200 per month. Obviously, it was not the ideal for skating serenely. When the situation was resolved, there were injuries, nothing was ever easy. So yes, the medal is beautiful, but what sacrifices! “

It does not appear on the 4 minutes and 30 minutes of the free development of the couple in PyeongChang. The tandem is weightless, succeeding in tricks and carried to perfection. At the time of the verdict of the judges, it is a torrent of tears. “I had enormous stress, I skated like a lion, with rage, Bruno Massot saw again. Twenty-three years of career that were played out there, in a few minutes. Afterwards, everything gave up. “

The return of the child prodigy

Bruno Massot finished in style, with a world title in stride. Time to put away the skates, to go train with Jean-François Ballester in Switzerland. But his mentor died six months later. “All my life, I never made a decision without his advice, loose the champion. I was lost, without landmarks. “ The Covid also complicates the situation. So with his wife, Bruno matures the idea of ​​returning home. At the turn of the year 2021, he called the president of Acsel in Caen.

→ ANALYSIS. French sports practice at half mast

“Bruno’s phone call presenting me his training center project was timely, indicates Ludovic Le Guennec. With the Covid, we had lost nearly 40% of our young people. We had to start from zero, on detection. Bruno was helping us to come out of a rather depressive period. “ It was still necessary to organize new occupancy slots for the ice rink, to obtain the support of local communities, of the federation. But this time, all the planets align. “I arrived in May 2021 on a red carpet, with a federation determined to rebuild by betting on new talents that I want to develop”, rejoices the gold medalist.

The center already has a dozen students. Bruno Massot is looking to recruit skaters and hopes to eventually have six couples. The structure must gain momentum, with a second training track that will have to be built by 2026, says the municipality. “In the meantime, we have to adapt and be patient, but we are on the right track”, assures the champion who already sees one of his young couples with astonishing progression skating in Milan in 2026. Bruno Massot believes in it. With determination. And also a lot of emotion: “I am in my ice rink, where it all began, and at the edge of the track in place of Jean-François Ballester who would have wanted so much to found a center here in Caen. It’s done. Let’s be up to it. “


Reduced numbers at the European Championships

In Tallinn, the blue delegation will consist of three pairs, a skater and a skater. But getting a podium would be a miracle. The last time the Blues posted a virgin record at the Euro, it was in 2014, the first continental competition of the ice dance tandem Gabriella Papadakis-Guillaume Cizeron. Since then, the duo has always held its place. The Blues will still count on the two champions at the Beijing Games to win a medal. They will be accompanied by the two skaters Adam Siao Him Fa and Kevin Aymoz, to complete the weakest French delegation in the history of the Games.



Antivax, esotericism and mysterious pyramid: Novak Djokovic, follower of pseudosciences

The standoff continues between Novak Djokovic and Australian justice. The tennis player, unvaccinated, admitted Wednesday, January 12 in an Instagram post to have committed “Errors” after testing positive for Covid-19 on December 16.

The world number one did not consider it necessary to postpone a meeting with journalists from the daily The team two days later. “I felt compelled to continue and to do the L’Équipe interview because I didn’t want to let the journalist down”, he justified himself.

→ EXPLANATION. Novak Djokovic, vaccination and Australia: the reasons for a diplomatic incident

Novak Djokovic also pleaded “Human error” for having incorrectly completed the entry form to Australia. The player certifies not to have traveled in the 14 days preceding his arrival in the Antipodes. A period during which he nevertheless found himself in Serbia and then in Spain.

This false declaration earned him the cancellation of his visa, obtained thanks to a medical exemption allowing him to participate without being vaccinated at the Australian Open from January 17 to 30. This cancellation had itself been revoked by the Australian justice on Monday January 10.

Vaccine skepticism

Behind this politico-judicial imbroglio, there is the vagueness that has long surrounded the vaccination status of Novak Djokovic. The world number one has never hidden his skepticism towards vaccination.Personally, I am opposed to vaccination and I would not want to be forced by someone to have a vaccine in order to be able to travel ”, he said in April 2020 on Facebook.

→ ANALYSIS. The Djokovic case raises the question of the vaccination status of athletes

The Serbian champion is also known for his controversial positions vis-à-vis science. Adept of a gluten-free diet – a diet he defends in his book Winning service. Gluten-free food for perfect physical and mental health -, the 34-year-old player has never hidden his attraction for alternative medicines and pseudosciences.

In spring 2020, Novak Djokovic for example hosted a live Instagram with Chervin Jafarieh, well-being guru and boss of the food supplement brand Cymbiotika. The Serbian player said: I have seen people and I know people who through energetic transformation, the power of prayer, the power of gratitude, manage to transform the most toxic foods and the most polluted water into the most purifying. “

Novak Djokovic thus echoed the theory of Masaru Emoto, doctor of alternative medicine, according to which thought can have an impact on the structure of water. A theory more than controversial and which has never been validated by the scientific community. The champion and his wife Jelena are also followers of the Steiner-Waldorf pedagogy, named after the Austrian author Rudolf Steiner, theorist of anthroposophy. This esoteric ideology mixes concepts from different religions and considers that the world is moved by spiritual forces.

Esoteric pilgrimages

The pilgrimages of the Serbian in the small town of Visoko in Serbia are also talking. In 2005, Semir Osmanagic, a Serbian businessman, claims that the hill overlooking the village is actually a pyramid built by a technologically superior civilization. Novak Djokovic is going there in 2020 and says he felt “Regenerated”. Since then, tourism has exploded in the village, to the delight of Semir Osmanagic.

→ MAINTENANCE. Bronner report: “The Covid-19 revealed forms of conspiracy in certain Catholic fringes”

Convinced that his beliefs play a role in his many successes, the player with twenty major titles is not yet out of the woods. The Australian immigration minister can still cancel his visa permanently, preventing him from taking part in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.



E-sport: the incredible popularity of the French league of “League of Legends”

“Karmine! Karmine! Karmine! “ They are around a thousand people gathered at the Carrousel du Louvre this Saturday, January 8, to await the arrival of their team. An “ola” is launched, then the songs resume: “Let’s go Karmine, let’s go Karmine”. When the players make their entrance, shortly after 9 p.m., the commentators have to wait a good two minutes before they can speak again, so many fans are screaming.

→ EXPLANATION. “E-sport”, a mass phenomenon

The event? A gala match between two professional online video game teams League of Legends, (LoL), one Spanish, the KOI, the other French, the Karmine Corp or KCorp. The most prominent team in the French league (LFL), KCorp offers a demonstration of its popularity four days before the resumption of the championship, Wednesday, January 12. At the height of the evening, 375,000 people were following the match from their homes via the Twitch streaming platform. Figures which confirm the growing attraction, in France, of the public for e-sport in general and for this game in particular.

Attract new and old viewers

Launched in 2019 and produced by Webedia, a company specializing in the production of online content, the LFL recorded in 2020 an average of 10,000 viewers per game. A year later, that average hovers around 40,000, peaking at over 180,000 viewers in some matches.

KCorp’s eruption into the LFL in 2021 seems to have played a big part in this growing success. “This team is supported by two influencers, Kameto and Prime. They already had a lot of fans who didn’t necessarily know League of Legends but who started to be interested in it, explains Nicolas Besombes, sociologist and vice-president of the France Esports association. KCorp has even achieved the feat, in its first year, of winning twice the European competition, the European Master, equivalent of the Champions League in football. A spotlight on the French e-sport scene.

→ REPORT. Esports in search of recognition in Japan

The year 2021 also marks the arrival of a new player in the French esports ecosystem: One Trick Production (OTP). A production company founded by two commentators well known to the French-speaking public: Fabien “Chips” Culié and Charles “Noi” Lapassat. “Over the past decade, a lot of people have watched League of Legends esports competitions in France. But people watched for a while and then moved on ”, launches Chips. Unmissable actors of the French scene of LoL, they launched OTP accompanied by other recognized figures and won the broadcasting rights for the LFL. The success is immediate. “I would say that the launch of OTP has re-mobilized an audience that had stopped watching the competitions”, he continues.

A French Cup of “LoL”

The Covid-19 pandemic has also been there. During the various confinements, while sports competitions are more or less at a standstill, the Twitch streaming platform records its highest audience ratings. “Many people have discovered League of Legends, or even other video games at that time, says Bertrand Amar, e-sport director of Webedia, and even after the lockdowns, people kept watching as audiences continued to mount. “

The LFL also finds its account there, because until now the matches were played, commented and watched online, except for the tournaments at the end of the season. An advantage over other sports, which were forced first to stop competing and then to set up gauges. “But this year we have decided to organize several physical events so that the fans and the teams can meet at regular intervals”, details Bertrand Amar. As a producer of the LFL, Webedia seeks to offer events to continue to appeal to new audiences. Latest announcement, the launch of a Coupe de France de League of Legends which will bring together teams from the LFL, Division 2 and the amateur circuit.


The “League of Legend” phenomenon in figures

League of Legend is an online multiplayer game released in 2009. It brought together 180 million active players in October 2021, according to its American publisher Riot Games.

The French league of LoL, theLFL, exists since 2019 and has ten teams. During matches, two teams of five players compete in order to destroy the opposing base. Each game lasts between twenty-five and forty minutes.

An LFL season is divided into two segments, one taking place in the spring and another in the summer, between which the European competition is inserted. At the end of both segments, the top three averaged teams compete in a tournament to determine the season winner.



Tennis: an Australian judge orders the release of Novak Djokovic

Judge Anthony Kelly ended several days of legal battle by ordering on Monday January 10 the immediate release of Novak Djokovic, who, wishing to enter Australia without being vaccinated against Covid-19, has been held since his arrival in a center for migrants in Melbourne.

Christopher Tran, a government lawyer, warned, however, that Canberra could still decide to expel Novak Djokovic from the country, which would result in him being barred from entering Australia for three years.

→ EXPLANATION. Novak Djokovic, vaccination and Australia: the reasons for a diplomatic incident

The tennis player’s lawyers were trying to convince the federal court that the Serbian champion had contracted the Covid in December, which would exempt him from a compulsory vaccination to enter the territory. “What more could this man have done?” “, admitted during the hearing followed online by AFP the judge, who considered that Djokovic provided evidence, emanating from “Of a professor and an eminently qualified doctor” regarding his request for a medical exemption.

The “completely confused” player

The hearing opened late after a computer problem due to too many connections to attend its online retransmission, finally shared on YouTube in particular, despite a ban, by antivax. Djokovic, who did not speak at the hearing, finally obtained permission from the court to follow Monday’s proceedings from another, undisclosed location, before being forced to return to the detention center in the outcome of the hearings.

According to the sportsman’s lawyers, the player was “Completely confused”, when he was heard for several hours on the night of January 5 to 6 at Melbourne airport. They argued in particular that he was deprived of means of communication with his entourage during his interrogation. His lawyers say he tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16. However, he attended the next day in Belgrade, without a mask, a ceremony in honor of young Serbian players.

The Australian Open, where Djokovic aims to afford a 21st Grand Slam tournament that would place him at the top of tennis history ahead of his two historic rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, begins in seven days and his participation depended entirely on Anthony Kelly’s decision.