This article was originally written in french on the 9th of march 2016.
Zlatan, we like you but enough is enough!
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (I.), Paris-Saint-Germain’s (PSG) star footballer said, at a press conference on the 8th of March 2016, that according to him, "PSG was born on the day Qataris bought it". In saying so he sweeps over a century of history and insults the memory of outstanding players. He minimises the prestigious trophies adorning its window displays, misleads new fans and scorns the elderly who keep in mind the sports emotions they retain as memories of life.
Beyond the infantile Zlatan I.’s behaviour, that will shake some time football pundits and sportswriters, this episode will soon join the "shitty country" that the same Zlatan I. had dropped last season speaking about France. Forgotten or worse, elevated to extraordinary incongruities that only outstanding players as Zlatan can afford!
Every company, every organisation, every community brings so much more than just providing products or services. By developing our infrastructure (buildings, roads, bridges etc.), a construction company designs our living conditions and our relationship to the landscape. The local cinema that projects the latest productions contributes to convey culture through the generations, to make us think, to make us laugh or to make us happy. Behind the teaching of the French language or mathematics, any school allows its students to understand the world they have come into and gives them a chance to integrate.
A football club also has a fundamental mission: make people dream, make them proud, and create happiness for its supporters. The PSG slogan is not mistaken in that sense:
«Dream bigger! »
By minimizing the Club's history and the achievements of its predecessors, giving a new interpretation of the story based on the latest information (the recent arrival of the Qataris and the level of their financial investment), Zlatan I. is practicing revisionism. He is also acting to the detriment of the intangible historical heritage of his employer, part of the capital acquired by the new shareholder.
We (the fans) are curious to know what is the Club’s position in all this?. Will it testify the respect it really brings to its inheritance, to its investment, but also to its fans and to all Parisians since the Club is supposed to represent the old city.
Is Zlatan I. to be sanctioned and the Club to play Chelsea tonight without him, is it really possible?
This is doubtful as the various slippages occurred by the Club in recent years have been minimised for the sole purpose of preserving the chances of achieving the objective set by the Club: win the major European competition that is the Champions League. By doing so, its leaders say loud and clear that this trophy is bigger than the institution of the Club, more important than the preservation of the Club's heritage, even more strategic than the story they tell its supporters; it is worth all the insults, all the attacks to the Club’s image.
A litmus test!
This episode is a reflection of what some companies live with certain employees whose profile is so rare, indispensable and economically profitable they feel they must bear their fantasies, demands and / or excesses.
Generally, it is only when disadvantages generated by their attitude clearly exceed benefits generated by keeping them in the company that the employer finally finds the strength to draw consequences. Sometimes this is done so late that the consequences are devastating for the organisation.
This is the case when employees and stakeholders realise that the profitability (the strategic goal, the sporting objective) is much more important than internal principles and values, that forgetting history is an acceptable price, that saying anything or “spitting” on the past is not an issue. Then they incorporate new ways, get new values that may lead to some inappropriate behaviours that it will be difficult for the company to blame afterwards.
In a company's life, there are some kind of events that the leaders must pass, some unique opportunities to show their strong belief and faith in their principles and values.
"A special thanks to Jackie Doyle for his valuable contribution to the translation of this article"