Nasser Al-Khelaïfi: The Incredible Story Behind the PSG President

Coming from a humble family, the Qatari businessman has managed to become into one of the most powerful and millionaire people in the world of soccer.

Nasser Al-Khelaïfi

The Qatari has been growing from below, with humble beginnings to which he always had to give his best to progress. Photo: Flickr-Christophe Pelletier

LatiAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón González

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Leer en español: Nasser Al-Khelaïfi: La increíble historia detrás del presidente del PSG

One of the most important news that has been given during this 2021 is, without a doubt, the departure of Lionel Messi from FC Barcelona. But beyond the financial problems of the Catalan team that caused this situation, the Argentine's subsequent arrival at PSG was due to the influence of a powerful figure in current European soccer: Nasser Al-Khelaïfi. The president of the French team has not stopped growing as a businessman, to the point of dominating the market and putting together a much more competitive team than last year. What is behind this successful character?

Although many believe that Al-Khelaïfi comes from a wealthy and luxurious family, in reality it is the opposite. The Qatari has been growing from below, with humble beginnings to which he always had to give his best to progress.

From fishing to the world of tennis

On November 10, 1973, Nasser bin Ghanim Al-Khelaïfi was born in Doha, the capital of Qatar. His family was humble and financially dependent on the income of his grandfather, a pearl fisherman. This activity became common among the members of the family group, even for his father, a man who was trying to break into the world of tennis but without much success. His childhood and part of his adolescence was spent inside a boat, experiencing an episode that almost cost him his and his father´s life after being injured for several days at sea, being miraculously rescued by a ship that passed through the area.

Due to fate, Nasser and his family lived in a house in front of the only tennis court complex in Doha. At the age of 11, he went to work there as a ball boy and from the first moment he stepped on the pitch, he fell in love with the sport at first sight. After being offered to play for a few minutes, the young man made the decision to venture into the discipline. The turning point in the life of the Qatari occurred in 1988, when at the age of 14 he was preparing to enter the world of professional tennis. His training partner was a boy named Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the fourth son of Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and, by then, heir to the throne.

His tennis career spanned just over a decade, ranking 995th in the world rankings and becoming Qatar's second most successful Davis Cup player. At the same time he studied economics at the University of Qatar, but it was thanks to his great friendship with the prince that he began an important period of ascent in his life. In 2005 he became part of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), a company founded by the royal family to diversify its investments outside the world of oil and gas. Three years later, he assumed the presidency of the Qatari Tennis Federation and vice-presidency of the Asian Federation, positions he currently holds.

The most powerful man in French soccer

In 2011 he would begin his journey in European soccer. With intentions of investing in sports, QIA founded Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought Paris Saint-Germain with the intention to turn it into a club full of world-class figures. In October of that year, the Qatari businessman assumed the presidency of the French institution and began a term where he has invested more than 1.3 billion dollars to sign renowned players such as David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kylian Mbappé, Neymar, among many others.

In fact, the arrival of the Brazilian in 2017 meant the most expensive signing in history after paying Barcelona more than 200 million dollars. So much investment in transfers has been with the premise of raising the Champions League for the first time, a tournament that they were close to winning in 2020. However, in this last decade it has almost completely dominated the domestic tournament with seven Ligue 1, six Cups of France, six League Cups and eight French Super Cups, also achieving four national triplets.

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But despite so much dominance, Al-Khelaïfi has been among complaints of bribery and suspicions of multiple violations of the rules of financial Fair Play, which have not condemned him but on the contrary, they have given him greater power in the world of business and soccer. Likewise, in the blink of an eye he assumed the presidency of beIN Sports (sports channel of the Al-Jazeera chain, controlled by the Qatari royal family), he was appointed a member of the Organizing Committee of the 2022 World Cup, since 2013 he has been a "free minister" of the government of Qatar, and in 2019 he was elected a member of the UEFA Executive Committee, being the first non-European to hold a leadership position there.

Given the influence of Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, the magazine France Football designated him as "the most powerful man in French soccer", and it is no wonder. His fortune reaches 16 billion dollars, making him one of the richest person on the planet despite the fact that Forbes does not consider him for associating his income with the Qatari royal family. Those who know him say that he is a modest person, with a low profile and that he loves spending time with his family. His life is the faithful example of what can be achieved if you take advantage of each and every opportunity you get along the way.

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