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Football: USM Algiers, a monument in danger


A true sports institution in the country, the club, whose president was the businessman Ali Haddad, is facing a serious financial crisis.

Supporters of the Sports Union of the Algina Medina (USMA) at the stage of 5-July-1962 in Algiers, in September 2017. RYAD KRAMDI / AFP

Sunday, August 25, at the stage of 5-July-1962 in Algiers, the Algerian Medal Sports Union of Alger (USMA), champion of Algeria in title, received the Nigerians of AS Sonidep during the preliminary round. of the African Champions League 2019-2020 (3-1, 2-1 in the first leg). But it could be, despite the qualification, the last match of the Reds and Blacks in this competition.

" If our situation does not improve very quickly, we may have to withdraw," says Amine Termane, one of the Algerian leaders in charge of communication. The financial situation of the club is indeed particularly worrying, whereas it was still a few months ago the richest of Algeria.

Read also Six months in prison for Ali Haddad, rich Algerian businessman close to Bouteflika

Created in 1937, the USMA became in 2010 the property of Ali Haddad, the businessman at the head of the powerful public works group ETRHB Haddad. The club, which has won eight times the championship and the national cup, lives today the darkest hours of its history. Since the arrest on 31 March of his owner - sentenced on June 17 to six months in prison for the possession of two passports - close to the former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the USMA is financially dry.

A new direction

"There is no more money available. The accounts are blocked, while its share capital is 10 million euros. ETRHB still holds 92% of the club's shares. A buyer, the Algerian group Al Hayat Petroleum, made an offer to ETRHB, which accepted it. But the legal authorities of the country have not yet unlocked the situation. The USMA is somehow taken hostage, " adds the leader. According to our information, Al Hayat Petroleum has planned an annual budget of 5 million euros per season, as well as a special windfall to complete the construction of the future training center.

Since the judicial setbacks of Ali Haddad, a new direction has been put in place and the former entrepreneur Boualem Chendri, a historical member of the club, was elected president. The USMA fears that the oil group will eventually get bored of the situation and give up its proposed buyback. The club management asked the sports ministry and the wali (prefect) of Algiers. "We were received by the Minister of Sports. We were told that things would move, but nothing happens, " continues Amine Termane.

Read also CAN 2019: in Algeria, football is also a very political affair

The players have not been paid for six months, nor the technical staff, now headed by former international Billel Dziri. And the club's employees, who also report delays in paying their salaries, nevertheless received some of their money during Eid. "The coach is doing a lot of psychological work with the players, who are very worried about the future of the USMA. ", Says Mr. Termane.

Faced with this financial crisis, the leaders resort to the system D. The trip to Niamey, August 9 for the match of the Champions League against AS Sonidep, was financed at the last minute by Al Hayat Petroleum, at the height of 30,000 euros. "Until the day before we left for Niger, we hoped that the Ministry of Sports would take charge of this trip. As it was not the case, Al Hayat released the funds, " adds Termane.

Status quo of legal proceedings

More recently, it is a part (about 3,000 euros) of the money raised through the sale of subscriptions to supporters that the team was able to travel to Constantine for a championship game. "Our fans are trying to get furniture as they can. We sold 1,200 subscriptions to date. We hope to reach 5,000 or 6,000 , continues the leader, who ensures that the next few days will be decisive. If the club's buy-out process is not ratified very quickly, it will first be necessary to consider withdrawal from the Champions League [the USMA will face the next round the Kenyan Gor Mahia in September] . Imagine the impact of a win for the champion of a country that has just won the African Cup of Nations ... "

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Football at the forefront of the anti-Bouteflika protest

An Algerian football observer, questioned by Le Monde Africa on condition of anonymity, does not hide his concern about the serious financial problems that put the future of the USMA in danger. Neither his surprise at the status quo of the legal bodies in the process of buying the club: "The country is going through a complicated situation and there may be more urgent things than the case of the USMA. But it is very long and there are jobs at stake. I also remember that the supporters of the USMA have always been considered rebels, hostile to power. Since the beginning of the demonstrations in February, they are very active. Let's not forget that their singing, La Casa del Mouradia , is systematically taken up by the protesters. And like other people in Algeria, I wonder if the power does not charge the USMA the role of its supporters in the political events of recent months ... "

Alexis Billebault

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Source: lemonde

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