- FC Nantes will face Toulouse in the French Cup final on Saturday. The first club belonged to Polish-born millionaire Waldemar Keita
- He bought Keita Nantes in 2007. He is hated by organized fan groups who try to convince him to leave the club in various ways. Keita also had problems with the French tax office
- Keita has been in talks to sell Nantes but is not keen on that. “He will die as the owner of the club. The more people demand his departure, the less he wants it,” says Saber Jendoubi, who this year published the book “The Elusive Mr. K.” Dedicated to a Polish businessman
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Two years ago, a group of fans organized a symbolic funeral for Waldemar Kita, because they had been trying to force him to leave for a long time. There were regular protests in the stands. The tax office was investigating unpaid taxes, and three years ago it seized a luxury yacht.
However, he continues to manage FC Nantes. He is its chief and owner. Last year, he finally hit it big when his club won the French Cup. And he can repeat this achievement on Saturday, because he will face Toulouse in the final of the local cup.
Keita does not care about criticism
Keita was born in Szczecin, but at the age of fifteen in 1969, after the death of his father and mother, he left Poland. He made his fortune by establishing Corneal in 1986, which specializes in the production of ophthalmic equipment. After 20 years, Kita sold it for 180 million euros to the American pharmaceutical company Allergan.
Keita has undertaken other businesses related to aesthetic medicine. He heads the Laboratoires Vivacy Group and his company does, among other things, penis lengthening. He is also one of the owners of VallJet, a company that leases aircraft to wealthy clients. On March 9, France 2 broadcast a report accusing the company of not being concerned about passenger safety.
Business is going well. In last year’s list of the 500 richest people in France according to Challenges magazine, Kita is ranked 148th with a net worth of €800 million.
But his passion is football. In the years 1999-2001 he was the owner of the Swiss sports company Lausanne, and in 2007 he bought the Nantes club for 10 million euros. The deserved club was relegated to the second division after 44 years. A year later, he was promoted, but immediately experienced the bitterness of being demoted again. He returned to Ligue 1 10 years ago. Since then, he has usually been a regular starter, although in 2021 he will only continue after the playoffs.
However, his management style generated opposition from fans. Longtime fans have protested the mogul’s reign in various ways. They summoned him from the stands and staged stormy demonstrations when the police had to use tear gas.
Florian Le Tove, founder of the “à la Nantes” association, wrote in 2020 p.
After all, a couple of years ago, they staged a loud, albeit obviously scandalous, staging of Keita’s symbolic funeral.
But he does nothing about it. True, he had been negotiating the sale of the club for a long time, but nothing had changed.
“Criticism and bad things that come out make him very strong. Anyone else would have given up, but not him. It’s an escape from everyday life for him. He’s been credited with being involved in many scandals, but he’s stuck in his position – Marek Joviak adds, Former Guingamp footballer and now Ligue 1 expert at Canal+.
“People are afraid”
He will die as the owner of the club. Saber Jendoubi, who this year published The Elusive Mr. K. is dedicated to a Polish businessman, presenting him in a rather unfavorable way, but – as the title says – the Polish billionaire remains unsinkable.
In an interview with the local newspaper Ouest France, he explained the reasons for writing the book. – I wanted to understand why in 15 years of presidency this man, Waldemar Keita, had not built anything in the Nantes club. He said why don’t this man and Nantes work together.
He admitted that working on it wasn’t easy, because it was difficult to convince people who knew Keita well to trust her. “People are afraid. I’ve met people who are suffering, who are traumatized, who were broken by Waldemar Keita. This is 15 years of mismanagement of the club in terms of people. People are tired and almost ashamed to work there,” Jendoubi said.
Reminds me of Berlusconi. In terms of management, it is part of the old world, which was before the 1980s, as explained by the author of the book. But Keita in Nantes was not as successful as Berlusconi in Milan.
“Keita is seen as such at Nantes because there is so much ambiguity around him when it comes to management. However, he kept the club in the league with only such a budget, even though it was very strong, and there were few successes at the time – Marek Joviac, former Guingamp footballer and now Ligue 1 expert at Canal+, told us.
Keita himself tries to suggest that his distaste for him is due to his nationality. Maybe because I’m Polish? Hell knows – he said a year ago in an interview with Przegląd Sportowy Onet.
Polish traditions – Gadocha, Kosecki, Krychowiak
Jóźwiak notes that “no one can prove anything to him yet, he has not been convicted”. But he alienated the Belgian director and his son’s friend. He adds that they were accused of all transfers being done through a single agent.
Waldemar Keïta appointed his son Frank as deputy general manager, and this allowed Mojé Bayat, an Iranian-born agent working in Belgium who was arrested in 2018 for money laundering and involvement in match-fixing, to gain significant influence at the club.
He was one of those implicated in a major scandal in Belgium in which a total of 46 people were charged. He was eventually released after six weeks on bail.
In Nantes, he was called the unofficial sports director, because in many ways he decided to move, which the fans did not like. – We love football, we hate Mogi Bayat – that was the banner hung by the fans in February last year.
Last season, after 15 years at the club, Keita achieved his first major success. Nantes won the French Cup. It was the first title of this privileged club since 2001. And after all, Nantes can boast of eight French championships, only PSG, Olympique de Marseille and Saint-Etienne have won more in Ligue 1.
Other Poles who have not stirred up such controversy as Keita are part of this beautiful story. Robert Gaducha was the first Polish footballer who legally left for the West and in 1975 went to Nantes, where he won the championship. 20 years later, Roman Kosice appeared there, playing in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Krzysztof Frankowski (in the 1980s), Grzegorz Krychowiak, who was just beginning his serious career, and Mariusz Stępiński also performed in Nantes.
The real legend of the club is Robert Budzinski, who was born in France into a family of Polish immigrants. He played there for six years, and then for 35 years he was sports director, and the best years in the club’s history are associated with him.
Now Nantes has a chance to win the French Cup for the second time in a row and the fifth in the history of the club. The match is traditionally held at the Stade de France near Paris.
The retention is more important than the cup
Last year’s victory in the Coupe de France and progress to the finals this year calmed the fans, who have not recently staged new demonstrations and events against Kita.
“It’s quieter. After qualifying for the final, there was great joy and festival on the field – says Jóźwiak. After the victorious semi-final match with Lyon, thousands of fans rushed to the field, which was completely occupied by supporters of the club.
However, the fight for this trophy is not the most important goal at the end of the season. He needs to stay in the league. Nantes occupy the last safe 16th place, while Brest, which opens the relegation zone, leads only on goal difference. In the league, they have not won nine straight games, in which they have scored only four points.
Nantes is closer to winning the title than relegation. They have a good chance in the final, but I see a big relegation risk. Given the way he plays, it could be different. May get up with his hand in the potty. Coupe de France is very important, prestige and money, but the most important thing is to survive. I don’t want them to win the cup and be relegated from the league – Jóźwiak admits.
If Nantes fail to win the cup and are relegated, Keita will likely become enemy number one of Nantes fans again.
source:Onet Sports Review
Creation date: Today 10:30
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