89 days of threats, fear and pressure that made Marcellin’s life impossible in Marseille | Relief

Jonathan Ramos

Marcelino Garcia Toral (58 years old) returns to the velodrome, the stadium that he called home during the 89 difficult days in which he was in charge of Olympique de Marseille. His departure, forced marches due to the power of radical groups in this entity, continues to have significance today. “Threats not forgotten“, those present come to life.

Five and a half months have passed since the Asturian last set foot in the technical zone of the Marseille fiefdom. That day, his team drew with Toulouse 0:0, thereby speeding up the decision leaving behind a draining work environment that was impossible to live with. This Thursday, in a diametrically opposed working environment, Marcelino and his coaching staff will return to France with the sole goal of achieving the best possible result before returning to Vila Real.

Longoria’s call

The landing in Marseille of the former coach of Athletic, Valencia and Villarreal, among others, became official on June 23, 2023. Marcelino, who had been off the bench for over a year at the time, received a call from a close friend. Pablo Longoria. I previously worked with him at Recreativo de Huelva, a club where the current president of Olympique de Marseille held a position scoutthe same task he carried out during Marcelino’s time at Racing Santander.

“During training, radical fans asked for an explanation, we had to stop and talk to them.”

Despite the number of offers he received, the Asturian decided on the next step in his career: the national team. “Training in Spain kept him between his eyebrows“, they emphasize. A path that was discussed with Luis Rubiales, but nIt was never signed due to commitments to bring in a full-time technician such as Luis de la Fuente. Knowing this decision, Pablo Longoria intended to close the Asturian Club as a replacement for Igor Tudor. “This style raised a lot of doubts, but talking with the board made the decision easier. The goal was to return Olympique Marseille to a place in the Champions League.“.

Ultras in training, daily bread

The desire to play in the Champions League died out prematurely after a heavy defeat to Panathinaikos on penalties during the qualifying stage of the European tournament. A misfortune that sparked the activity of ultra groups in the club sports city.

During training, radical fans demanded an explanation.“We had to stop and talk to them.” Over time, this became common practice. “Nobody controls the ultras, They can make life impossible for a player or coach.“, adds a representative of the players who have a past at the club.

“People were shocked and scared, it seemed like a scary meeting.”

Internal tension became more and more noticeable over time. The actions of extremist fans affected a group that did not understand the reasons for this witch hunt. “It was hard not to qualify for the Champions League, but the results in the league were good. The team grew,” they explained over time.

“A Terrible Meeting”

If there was a day that marked a before and an after in the lives of Marcelino’s employees in Marseille, this was undoubtedly the day. Monday, September 18, 2023. On that day, ultra groups appeared in the sports city of the French club with the goal of taking the reins of the club into their own hands. “The group leader wanted to influence the decisions of the entire team, the managers had a hard time“, they emphasize.

There were people shocked and frightened; it seemed like a terrible meeting.“, they continue. Faced with a similar situation, The Asturian and his team agreed with the organization to stop “such a beautiful project.”as they remember from the point of view. Thus, two days after witnessing “something unheard of” like what happened at Olympique’s headquarters in Marseille, the coaching staff decided to leave France after seeing “I can’t work in these conditions“.

Thursday’s game goes beyond sports. “There’s no type of grudge“, say the victims. All efforts of Marcelino and his team are focused on achieving the best possible result in order to complete the European qualifying round as soon as possible.

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