The harsh reality of Algerian football

The Algerian Fennecs celebrate their victory against the Senegalese Teranga Lions in the final of the African Cup of Nations in Cairo, Egypt on July 19, 2019.
The Algerian Fennecs celebrate their victory against the Senegalese Teranga Lions in the final of the African Cup of Nations in Cairo, Egypt, on July 19, 2019. GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

There are images of the coronation of the Fennecs on July 19 against Senegal (1-0) and scenes of jubilation during the return of the heroes in Algiers. Algeria had been waiting for this moment for nearly thirty years, after the first continental title of its history obtained in Algiers in March 1990, just before the black decade.

And there is the reality of a local football that is far from being as good as the selection, showcase of national football. "Here, it's been years that the Fennecs are the priority. The national team lacks nothing. Good if it helps us win titles. But for young people and the training policy, for clubs, it's something else. The proof: among the champions of Africa, the majority are binational and have been trained in France ", says Ali Fergani, the former international midfielder (64 caps) and coach, and considered one of the best players in the history of the country.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also CAN 2019: in the streets of Algiers, a July 19 under the sign of "Hirak" and football

Officially, Algerian football switched to professionalism in 2010, following the decision of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, former President of the Republic. But for Ali Fergani, who has trained many clubs (JS Kabylie, MC Oran, JSM Bejaia, USM Algiers), the public will has not really translated into the facts: "Initially, the state had to support the financing of the construction of training centers for clubs. They also had to put in place a real policy of training young people. Alas, nothing or almost nothing has been done. However, without training structures worthy of the name, it is impossible to train young people in good conditions. Apart from the Paradou AC club, from which international champions such as Youcef Atal and Hicham Boudaoui (Nice) or Ramy Bensebaini (Borussia Mönchengladbach) come out, the others are very late. " An astonishing situation in a country whose population is young and where talents are not lacking.

"We stay in the short term"

This paradox does not surprise Nordine Djelloul, former general manager of CS Constantine (Ligue 1) and USM Annaba (Ligue 2): "The presidents of the clubs put all or almost all on the professional team. And since there is a lot of pressure from the fans and the press for immediate results, we stay in the short term. The coaches are dismissed after three bad results and the numbers are largely renewed at each transfer window. However, training young people costs money, takes time and there is no guaranteed return on investment. "

Read also CAN 2019: Algeria wins second title in history

The transition to professional football has also not improved the economic situation of the clubs. Most of them are struggling to make ends meet, and it is common that players and technical staff members are not paid for several months. " The trend, with professionalism, is to practice an excessive wage policy. Some players receive up to 20,000 euros, not counting bonuses. Clubs are not always strong enough to take on such burdens. But to attract the best, they are bidding over the amount of wages, even if they can not pay them in the medium term ", Ali Fergani continues.

Read also Mercato: Algerian footballers surf the CAN effect

The economic difficulties spare virtually no club, except the Mouloudia of Algiers, property of Sonatrach, the public oil company, CS Constantine, owned by the National Public Works Company (ENTP) and JS Saoura, under the control of the national drilling company (Enafor), two subsidiaries of Sonatrach. "And again, Mouloudia does not pay wages on a regular basis. Even a big club like USM Alger is in trouble, since the judicial problems of Ali Haddad, its former owner, says Frenchman Jean-Michel Cavalli, former coach of Fennecs, also passed by USM Annaba and MC Oran. It is common for players to receive three or four months of salary in one fell swoop, then nothing for several months. "

"Match matches"

Ali Fergani also deplores "Lack of vision of club leaders". "Many do not have the skills. They are there, but do not really know how such a structure works, " He laments. The lack of budgetary rigor is considered as a brake on the professionalization of Algerian football. TV rights are relatively modest in Algeria, ticket sales are low and merchandising is not yet developed enough.

" In other words, a lot of clubs are just in tense. We do not know exactly their budget. Expenses are not controlled and it is common that, in the face of a complicated financial situation, the wali decides to release money », says Nordine Djelloul. However, a National Control and Management Directorate (DNCG) has been created and will begin its mission in the coming weeks. The aim is to better supervise clubs and fight against budget drift, punishing those who do not respect the rules of good management.

Read also CAN 2019: Riyad Mahrez, the star of the Algerian team

Algerian football must also fight against widespread corruption practices. In April, Abdelbasset Zaïm, then president of the USM Annaba, declared on the channel El-Heddaf TV to have disbursed "7 billion centimes (in dinars) to buy matches » during the 2017-2018 season. Cherif Mellal, president of JS Kabylie, had meanwhile accused the former leaders of USM Algiers of fraudulent maneuvers in the process of appointing referees.

A coach, on condition of anonymity, also evokes the problem: "Match matches often come late in the season. Last year, the president of JS Kabylie said he had been approached by the club of Constantine so that he pays the Constantinois a bonus motivation, for them to beat the USM Algiers, the fight with the JSK in the race for the title of champion of Algeria. The leader had agreed to pay money. Alas, no real action is taken against corruption, because it suits a lot of people … "


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here