Foot : Marseille se met le feu

At OM, instability is second nature and heated moments are a habit. Tuesday was yet another example of this, and it could have immense consequences, as we still didn’t know by the end of the evening if Longoria and Marcelino, who arrived just this summer, would still be in their positions on Wednesday.

Impensable il y a encore une semaine, cette crise ex nihilo a pris corps dimanche, au bout d’un sinistre match nul 0-0 concédé face à Toulouse. Jusqu’ici plutôt indulgent face au début de saison médiocre de son équipe – 4e en Ligue 1 mais éliminé dès le 3eDuring the preliminary round of the Champions League, the Marseille crowd reacted with a huge uproar, with both ends of the stadium urging the players to « give it their all » or « get lost ».

The next day, a long-planned meeting between the management and the representatives of the supporter groups took place in the evening at the Commanderie, the club’s training center. This meeting was described by one of the participants as « very tense » according to AFP.

Démission demandée

Unsatisfied with the results achieved, the proposed game, the transfer market, and, more generally, the sports policy of the club, the supporters demanded the resignation of the entire management team, consisting of Longoria, his close Spanish collaborators Javier Ribalta (football director) and Pedro Iriondo (general manager), and the financial director, Stéphane Tessier.

La tension est encore montée d’un cran mardi dans la matinée, le quotidien L’Equipe écrivant que Marcelino avait annoncé à ses joueurs qu’il allait quitter le club. De son côté, Eurosport Espagne a assuré que Longoria s’apprêtait à démissionner après avoir reçu « des menaces de mort ».

L’AFP n’a pas eu confirmation de ces deux informations, mais un autre participant à la réunion de lundi soir a démenti que de telles menaces aient été proférées à la Commanderie.

18 months ago, in March 2022, Longoria had already been affected by the aggression of certain representatives of supporter groups during a similar encounter, described as « very heated » by one of the participants. The Spanish leader, who was then the sports director of OM, himself became president shortly after the attack on La Commanderie in January 2021 by supporters who were furious with the management of the then-president, Jacques-Henri Eyraud. Several supporters were sentenced to prison, either with or without parole, for these incidents.

Pétition pour Longoria

On Tuesday, several crisis meetings took place, including one in which the American owner of the club, Frank McCourt, was supposed to participate via video conference. The outcome of these discussions was not known by Tuesday evening, but the crisis that has unfolded in the past 24 hours puts OM in a very vulnerable position, especially considering their increasingly challenging sports schedule.

Starting from Wednesday, the Marseille players will indeed travel to Amsterdam, where they will face Ajax on Thursday for their debut in the Europa League. Then, on Sunday, they will be in Paris to try and resist Kylian Mbappé’s PSG in the first « Classique » of the season. Who will be leading the club at that time? On Tuesday, a petition was launched on social media in support of Longoria and had been signed by over 11,000 people by early evening.

The departure of the young leader (37 years old) would be a seismic event. Marcelino’s departure might be felt less harshly. In the past three years, since Longoria arrived at the club, he has already been the fifth coach in charge.