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John Textor: Americanisation of Football – Part 3

John Textor

The third part of our Americanisation of Football series comes at a fitting time. John Textor has been a major topic in both Brazilian and international media for his extremely controversial remarks and actions as the owner of Botafogo’s SAF.

Join us as we delve into Textor’s other ventures and the controversy surrounding the American executive.

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Who is John Textor?

John Charles Textor, or simply John Textor, was born in the small town of Kirksville, Missouri, USA, on September 30, 1965.

As expected, he didn’t become a mega businessman through football.

In fact, one wouldn’t imagine that he was once a skilled skateboarder in his youth. Having moved to Florida at a young age, he even won significant skateboarding championships.

However, his days as an athlete were numbered. Due to a head injury, he had to give up skateboarding and turned to the world of programming and the internet.

Thus, what led him to become a billionaire was the entertainment industry and disruptive technologies.

He is the former CEO of FUBOTV, a streaming platform for various sports based in the United States.

Once a programmer, he immersed himself in the world of special effects, becoming one of the leaders of Digital Domain, a giant company in the field, winner of several Oscars, and founded by the legend, James Cameron.

That said, at some point, like a good American capitalist, he understood that football would be a fertile ground for high-risk investments and decided to embark on this journey without looking back. Thus, Eagle Football Holding was created, which holds shares in some clubs around the world.

The portfolio could have been even larger, as he came close to becoming one of the largest shareholders of Benfica, one of the most traditional clubs in the world. In addition, there was speculation about the possibility of acquiring stakes in Watford and Newcastle, which also did not materialize.

What transpires about his personality is that of an active businessman in the business world.

Always present at Botafogo games, even in remote locations, he has had the spotlight on him. Unfortunately, much more for saying things, so far, considered unwarranted, than for good work.

Let’s see how he manages his investments with an estimated fortune of $1 to $1.5 billion.

Diretor do Botafogo promete pôr fogo no futebol brasileiro

Image: Vitor Sila/Botafogo

Olympique Lyonnais – Lyon (FRA)

In December 2022, the purchase of 77.49% of Lyon’s shares from other shareholders was officially announced, for an approximate value of €800 million.

With this, the American became the largest shareholder, which, due to recent efforts, has become one of the greats of French football.

Lyon, in the 20th century, was not considered a team of great significance nationally, especially internationally. Until 2001, the team’s trophy room boasted only three French Cups, won in the 1960s and 1970s.

Everything changed in 2001 with the arrival of the club’s greatest idol, Juninho Pernambucano.

The former Vasco da Gama midfielder had a concrete proposal to play for Barcelona, which offered a lot, but Juninho had given his word to Marcelo Dijan, the club’s representative in Brazil, that he would go to France.

Thus, Lyon assembled a true squad, which won the French Championship seven times in a row. Juninho Pernambucano played 343 matches, scored 100 goals, and was the team’s captain.

After his departure, Lyon did not have the same success. They won a title here and there until 2013. This was largely due to the arrival of Nasser Al-Khelaïfi at PSG, which practically ended the competitiveness of French football.

More recently, in 2020, they equaled their best performance in the Champions League, reaching the semi-finals, but were eliminated by the eventual champions of that edition, Bayern Munich. Coincidentally or not, Juninho was the club’s director at the time.

The fact is that even before Textor, Lyon has been experiencing tough times in the national scene.

The last good performance in Ligue 1 was in 2019/20, finishing in fourth place.

With Textor’s arrival, there is no improvement in the team’s sports performance, which remains in the middle of the table. This is incongruent with the club’s recent history and considering the low level of competitiveness in the French league.

Now, one point must be noted. Since Textor’s management began, the club has had a great surplus.

Since the 2022/23 season, the team has made a profit of €79.4 million. The sales of Lucas Paquetá, Barcola, and Gusto were crucial for the balance sheet.

However, it is necessary to replenish players of the same caliber and, more than that, to form a competitive team again.

Torcida do Lyon homenageia Juninho Pernambucano com mosaico 3D | futebol internacional | ge

Image: Emmanuel Foudrot/Reuters

Crystal Palace (ENG)

The traditional English club founded in 1905 is another institution of which John Textor holds a stake; 45%.

It is estimated that the operation finalized in 2021 amounted to £117.5 million.

The London club has not undergone major changes in sports since Textor’s arrival.

A team that has never won the English Premier League, before or after its creation, is experiencing dull days.

After the American’s arrival, the club’s largest shareholder, they continue to hold mid-table positions.

However, unlike Lyon, which has a very positive player selling balance, Crystal Palace has experienced a significant deficit since Textor’s arrival.

It is estimated to have spent £200 million and only received around £5 million since the 2021/22 season.

Such expenditure would be justified if there were significant improvements in the team’s performance, which we do not see at the moment.

Crystal Palace is only 14th in the Premier League, with 30 points.

Torcida do Crystal Palace exibe faixas em protesto contra John Textor | Arivaldo Maia

Image: Tony Obrien/Reuters

RWD Molenbeek (BEL)

Molenbeek is a team founded in 1951 under the name Standaard Wetteren. Through bankruptcies and mergers, RWD Molenbeek was acquired by John Textor between 2021 and 2022.

The values ​​were not disclosed, but it is known that he holds 80% of the shares.

Textor arrives at a time when the team was in the Belgian Second Division.

In his first full season leading the club, he achieved the title and direct promotion to the elite of Belgian football.

However, at this moment, Molenbeek is the last-placed team in the regular season, with the possibility of relegation very imminent.

The Belgian Championship has a different format. There is a regular season, followed by games between the bottom-placed teams to avoid relegation.

Após assinar acordo com o Botafogo, John Textor é anunciado como co-proprietário do RWD Molenbeek, da Bélgica - Jornal O Globo

Image: RWDM

Botafogo (BRA)

The most important team for Textor, alongside Lyon, Botafogo was one of the first SAFs in Brazilian football.

The American arrives at the club in March 2022, acquiring 90% of its shares, after a period of reconstruction.

In 2020, Fogão was relegated to Serie B of the Brasileirão, again, after a catastrophic season. They were last, with only 27 points.

They achieve promotion to the top flight the following year, having a great Serie B, winning the title with 70 points.

Thus, through an investment of R$400 million to be spread over four years, Botafogo’s SAF was established, much due to the financial situation the club was in until then, which was absolutely perilous, threatening even to close its doors for not being able to meet routine commitments.

In 2022, a regular season in Brasileirão, finishing in 11th place, considered quite satisfactory for a club returning to the top flight.

Now, in 2023, the story was different.

As mentioned here countless times, Botafogo had the best first half of the season in the history of the Brasileirão points system.

Losing the title seemed like a cruel joke. However, it tragically happened.

The club lost Portuguese coach Luis Castro to Al Nassr, Cristiano Ronaldo’s team. From then on, things went from bad to worse.

They finished the competition in fifth place, a true embarrassment.

Textor, who had been confident throughout the process in winning the title, saw his world crumble round after round.

The climax was the defeat to Palmeiras, 4-3, after leading the match 3-0 and with a penalty in their favor at 3-1.

At the end of the match, the businessman lashed out at Palmeiras and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF). And he didn’t stop there.

Conheça o John Textor, novo dono do Botafogo | Band

Image: Botafogo

Textor’s scandal against CBF and Palmeiras

As mentioned above, Botafogo saw the Brazilian title slip through their fingers after the historic defeat to Palmeiras, 4-3, after leading 3-0.

At the end of the match, extremely agitated, John Textor gave an interview on the field to Sportv.

On this occasion, pointing his finger, he said that what had happened (the expulsion of the Botafogo player, considered controversial) was corruption and theft.

Furthermore, he asked CBF President Edinaldo Rodrigues to step down from office.

His words were taken seriously by the STJD, which suspended him preventively until the end of the 2023 Brasileirão.

The Court accused him again in March this year for not presenting any evidence of the accusations made.

A month after said accusation, he comes back stronger.

This time, he claims to have concrete evidence that players were involved in corruption schemes.

The collusion, according to him, would have existed to benefit Palmeiras and has been happening for two seasons (2022 and 2023).

Specifically, he mentioned the classic between Palmeiras and São Paulo, when Verdão beat Tricolor 5-0. He alleges that on this occasion, five São Paulo players were involved in the scheme.

The other target of Textor’s accusations was Fortaleza, in the match they lost 4-0, also to Palmeiras.

But now, where do the heavy evidence come from that would support the American’s accusations? According to him, from subject matter experts and artificial intelligence.

Check out John Textor’s words to Canal do Medeiros:

“We have heavy, 100% confirmed evidence that Palmeiras has been benefiting from match manipulation for at least two seasons. Sorry if this will cause noise, but I have evidence, I will send it to the prosecutors. I am here to defend the honor of my club. I can promise you that no one will tamper with our games this year.”

“I never argued that Palmeiras themselves or their president (Leila Pereira) were responsible for this match manipulation. In fact, in my much-discussed anti-corruption protest in November of last year, I made it clear that the ‘players didn’t want to win this way.’ However, I strongly argue that Palmeiras’ ambitions in the championship were benefited by this corruption.”

“I have taken steps to provide comprehensive evidence regarding the above games, and others, to a competent legal prosecutor, to include evidence of a sequence of manipulations that devastated the 2023 championship.”

“In addition to the bad actors on the field (usually players), I am also prepared to demonstrate certain individual combinations, acting together with referees and video referees, who clearly conducted manipulated games, while committing devastating errors, which guaranteed manipulated results.”

All involved in the case quickly spoke out, condemning John Textor’s remarks.

Palmeiras, in particular, went further and filed a lawsuit with the STJD.

The fact is that if Textor’s allegations have any basis, he will have forever changed the course of Brazilian football.

On the other hand, we make an appeal. Do not play with Brazilian football and do not try to disrupt the present order. Making accusations of this caliber based on artificial intelligence and experts seems to be a very dangerous thing. Not only for the businessman but mainly for Botafogo, a centenary institution with a reputation to uphold.

John Textor

Image: Reproduction/Premiere

Written by Vitor F L Miller.

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