PSG chief Nasser Al Khelaifi named most influential person in football

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, May 19: Paris Saint Germain's (PSG) Qatari owner Nasser Al Khelaifi has been voted as the most influential person in football by the France Football weekly in its May 19 issue.

Al Khelaifi who is also the chairman of beIN SPORTS media group as well as the president of Qatar Tennis Federation, topped the list of 50 international figures thanks to his influence in French and European football, the France Football said.

Al Khelaifi oversaw the process of converting Ligue 1 giants to an international brand in a short time. Besides dominating French football and making big strides in Europe, PSG also saw the sales of club shirts increase from 44,000 in 2011 to more than a million in 2019 and the number of followers on digital platforms move from 500,000 to 87 million.

Later in an interview with the weekly, Al Khelaifi praised several sports figures for their influence such as legendary Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, NBA great Michael Jordan, PSG stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham, Portugal hero Cristiano Ronaldo, current FIFA chief Gianni Infantino and his UEFA counterpart Aleksander Ceferin.

"It's a huge privilege, and surprise, to be nominated alongside such esteemed company," said Al Khelaifi while reserving special plaudits for Ronaldo.

"Cristiano (Ronaldo) has a unique single-mindedness year after year, and an unmatched strength of character. I admire this relentless drive and he is a great example for all aspiring athletes."

PSG president Al-Khelaifi lauds Ronaldo's 'extraordinary strength of character'

"So too Mr Infantino, who has risen to lead one of the most important and most influential organisations in the world, one that transcends football in its size and scope.

The 46-year-old also said that at PSG, the most important part is the institution itself.

"I meet lots of people in the industry, many of whom have great influence. But at PSG, the most important part is the institution itself, we place this above everything and everyone. Those who work at PSG know this already, and it's made clear to everyone who joins on day one."

The jury comprised mostly the journalists from the weekly and Al Khelaifi is notably credited with having successfully transformed the club into an international and successful brand.

The magazine also announced a list of top 50 most powerful people in the world of football.

(With inputs from beINSPORTS/PSG Media)

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