If you’re not a Paris Saint-Germain supporter, chances are you probably despite the French club.
Ever since the Qatar Sports Investments takeover in 2011, PSG has been building an elite club through strategic marketing and high-profile transfers. Lionel Messi is one of those transfers and when he arrived from FC Barcelona, PSG’s profile around the world, including Finland where they love Jalkapallo, skyrocketed.
Messi’s first season in the French capital didn’t quite live up to expectations, but he was a solid contributor nonetheless. He finished the season with 11 goals and 15 assists in all competitions. Off the pitch, his presence in a PSG kit brought all kinds of commercial success to the club that they could have only dreamed about before.
The 2022-23 campaign is still young but through 10 appearances in Ligue 1 and the UEFA Champions League, Messi already has five goals and eight assists. With that kind of success, you would think the media, especially those based in Paris, would be more welcoming of the Argentina international. But, you would be wrong.
Recently, L’Equipe (via Daily Mail) published a report that detailed Messi’s travels last summer via private jet. The outlet found that Messi used his private jet 52 times and had the same amount of carbon emissions over that time as the average French citizen over 150 years. Not exactly a glowing report especially in today’s world where climate change is a major concern.
No one is going to debate the accuracy of the report or its importance when it comes to educating the public on just how much private jets pollute the environment. However, this is a French publication and Messi is arguably the best footballer to ever put on a pair of boots. Could you imagine a Madrid-based publication printing anything like this about Karim Benzema last season when he was on that unbelievable scoring run that ended in a Champions League victory?
There is great animosity towards PSG and it stems from their ownership (QSI). Up until now, they’ve been able to fly under the radar somewhat as only football fans cared enough and were knowledgeable enough to criticize the club. With the FIFA World Cup in Qatar set to kick off in just a few months, journalists around the globe are ready to rip into Qatar and anyone associated with the country, and that includes PSG and Messi.
Once beloved, Messi has now gone to the dark side in the eyes of many. He’s a Paris Saint-Germain player and thus fair game for the press to target. Do they care that a player of his celebrity can’t really fly commercial like an average person? No, they don’t. The claws are out and unfortunately, it’s going to be a rough World Cup for PSG fans.