Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
American de Bontin takes charge at Monaco
by Paul Kennedy, May 20th, 2008 11AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[AMERICANS ABROAD]French-American Jerome de Bontin, the new president of French club AS Monaco, promises to bring an American touch to one of the most prestigious names in European soccer, a club that has struggled in recent years.

After more than 30 years of involvement in American soccer, as a player, coach, referee and most recently as an influential figure in U.S. Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Foundation, de Bontin is leaving his home in Kenilworth, Ill., to move to Monaco to run AS Monaco.

De Bontin's move came at the calling of Prince Albert of Monaco, his former teammate at Amherst College and longtime friend.

Monaco enjoys only modest support -- the Principality has only 32,000 residents -- but it has a rich history.

"In the eyes of the soccer world," says de Bontin, "Monaco has a special role to play."

Monaco has won seven French league titles since 1961 and five French Cup titles and reached the final of the 2004 UEFA Champions League, where it lost to Porto, but it has struggled in recent years.

Monaco has produced some of the greatest players in recent French history. Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Emmanuel Petit and Lilian Thuram, all members of the 1998 World Cup championship team, got their professional starts at Monaco.

Foreign stars who have played at Monaco include former European Player of the Year George Weah, German starJuergen Klinsmann, EnglishmanGlenn Hoddle, Mexican star Rafael Marquez and current D.C. United midfielder Marcelo Gallardo. Weah, Marquez and Gallardo all made their European debuts at Monaco.

While Monaco plays in the tiny (18,500 seats) but picturesque Stade Louis II, de Bontin says it has one of the three largest budgets in the French Ligue 1.

"We have world-wide recognition," he says. "Arsene Wenger was our coach [1987-95]. Recently, Barcelona and Manchester United played in the semifinals of the Champions League, and six players who played for our club were on the field."

Monaco currently has three of the top young prospects in France -- Jeremy Menez, Serge Gakpe and Djamel Bakar -- but the club languished on the edge of the relegation zone before finishing 12th in the 20-team Ligue 1.

Monaco's poor performances in recent years resulted in the resignations of president Michel Pastor and vice president Gerard Brianti. Shortly after the end of the regular season on Saturday, reports circulated that de Bontin might shake up the club's front office but keep Brazilian Ricardo on board as coach for the next season.

One of De Bontin's goals is to develop close ties with American soccer. He has been serving on U.S. Soccer's technical committee that U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati formed after the 2006 World Cup to evaluate the nation's approach to youth player development and coaching education.

De Bontin hopes to sign one or two Americans for next season and develop working relationships with U.S. soccer organizations shortly. (He also hopes to get a waiver from the French league to allow Americans to enter Monaco's youth academy -- and to develop a reciprocal program so ASM youth graduates can play college soccer like he did more than a quarter a century ago.)

De Bontin, the president and chief executive officer of Mekar Financial Services and president of Sustainability Investments, plans on moving his family to Monaco.

His first task is to reorganize Monaco's ownership.

"There has been much less of a rift," said de Bontin, "than some of the sports press has reported."

With Monaco assured of returning to the First Division, de Bontin was preparing for his first offseason as club president. One of the criticisms of Monaco was that its management relied to heavily on the advice of player agents.

"I am sufficiently well-connected," says de Bontin, "not to need an agent to tell me who to hire or not to hire."

De Bontin's long-term goal is to develop Monaco's business. He says European soccer is so attractive to American sports entrepreneurs because it remains largely underdeveloped.

He believes French soccer in particular can benefit from "new blood."

Among those de Bontin has turned to is former U.S. Soccer and World Cup 1994 organizing committee president Alan Rothenberg, who has joined AS Monaco's board of directors.

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS's best player moves of 2016 (Part 1)    
How complicated are MLS rules for a team seeking to sign a player? The league lists ...
MLS: Rolfe and Manneh handed bans    
The MLS Disciplinary Committee has suspended D.C. United forward Chris Rolfe and Vancouver's Kekuta Manneh for ...
No U.S. refs picked for Olympic Games    
The FIFA Referees Committee named 32 referees and 56 assistant refs for men's and women's Olympic ...
What They're Saying: Jamie Vardy lookalike Lee Chapman    
"Ranieri spotted me. The rest of the players were banging on the window for me to ...
NASL: Rowdies sign former England international Joe Cole    
The Tampa Bay Rowdies have signed former England international Joe Cole on a contract through the ...
TV Report: Wambach joins ESPN    
ESPN has hired retired women's star Abby Wambach to serve as an analyst and contributor, beginning ...
What They're Saying: Guus Huddink    
"If you have done some judo and wrestling, you can easily fall. Even at my age, ...
Video Pick: Big goalkeeper blooper punished with volley    
In the German Bundesliga 2, first-place Freiburg led last-place Paderborn, 2-0, when goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow shanked ...
Making a List: U.S. Copa Centenario representation    
A total of 59 players representing 27 teams in MLS, the NASL and USL were named ...
Copa Centenario: Complete preliminary rosters    
The preliminary 40-player rosters for the 16 teams competing this summer's Copa Centenario were released. These ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives