Home World Berlusconi and football, from Milan to Monza, from trophies to “prostitutes”

Berlusconi and football, from Milan to Monza, from trophies to “prostitutes”

Silvio Berlusconi, who died at the age of 86, was the “first tifoso” of AC Milan, a club he led for three decades and of which he had made one of the greatest teams in the world thanks to stars recruited at gold prices. For the former Italian Prime Minister, owner since 2018 of another Serie A club, Monza, AC Milan was an undeniable passion but also a formidable communication tool at the service of his economic affairs and his political career. .

During the thirty-one years of reign of the “Cavaliere” (between 1986 and 2017, with a few breaks when he was head of government), the club with the famous red and black striped jersey won 29 trophies, including five Champions Leagues and eight Italian championship titles.

Milan is then a stronghold of world football, under the orders of coaches Arrigo Sacchi, apostle of the beautiful game, or Fabio Capello, winner of the Champions League in 1994 by outclassing Barça in the final (4-0).

The stars follow one another there when they do not mix there: the Italians Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Andrea Pirlo, the Dutch Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard or Clarence Seedorf but also Jean-Pierre Papin, George Weah, Andreï Shevchenko, Ronaldinho or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Gullit, Van Basten, Weah, Shevchenko and Kaka have all won the Ballon d’Or during their time at the club.

Pioneer of “foot business”

This success had a price. At a time when players had not yet got into the habit of changing their tunic every three years or of crossing borders, Silvio Berlusconi was a claimed pioneer of “foot business”, multiplying sparkling transfers, as will the same time Bernard Tapie in Marseille.

The rivalry between OM and Milan also gave rhythm to European football in the early 1990s, culminating in the 1993 Champions League final won by the Phocaeans (1-0).

In the 2000s, Milan won the Champions League twice more, and let slip a third when they were leading 3-0 at half-time against Liverpool in 2005. But Berlusconi’s wealth was no longer enough to attract the best stars while ever more powerful shareholders arrive in Europe, from the United States, Asia or the Gulf.

“His” Milan is gradually retreating and no longer winning anything after 2011, Berlusconi’s last Italian championship title. The beautiful story, born in 1986 with the acquisition of a club on the verge of bankruptcy, ends in 2017 with the sale to a Chinese businessman for more than 700 million euros.

Weighed down by considerable debts, the club passed the following year into the hands of an American investment fund, Elliott, which itself sold it last summer to another fund, RedBird Capital, for 1 .2 billion euros, after bringing it back to the top (champion 2022).

A “bus of prostitutes” for Monza players

Leaving Milan, Berlusconi explains that “modern football involves, in order to be competitive at the highest European and world level, investments and resources that a single family can no longer assume”. While remaining, of course, “the first tifoso” of the “Diavolo”, the nickname of the rossonero club. “It’s the team my dad taught me to love when I was a kid,” he also says.

The boss of Fininvest, however, has not finished with the round ball. In 2018, he bought Monza, a team then in the third division, with the idea of ​​taking it to the top flight for the first time. As he had done at AC Milan, he entrusted the management to his usual right arm, Adriano Galliani, a native of Monza.

Boosted by the businessman’s investments, the challenge was met in four years: Monza, whose stadium is ten minutes from Berlusconi’s villa, in Arcore, has been playing in Serie A since the summer of 2022. After a maintenance easily acquired this season, Berlusconi dreamed out loud of a league title.

Although many in Italy had learned not to pay too much attention to the words of the aging leader. Which, last December, had engaged in a new slippage by promising its players, in the middle of Christmas dinner, to bring them “in the locker room” a “bus of prostitutes” to motivate them. “A simple joke in the locker room”, had pleaded the incorrigible Berlusconi in response to the general bronca.

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