Elon Musk, Aliko Dangote and English football – Jeune Afrique


On August 17, the richest man in the world declared on the Twitter network that he was struggling to acquire: “I also buy Manchester United”, the British Premier League club. A message from the South African-Canadian-American Elon Musk which will immediately have the effect of a bomb in the entourage of the Red Devils club. A few hours later, propelled into top tweets, the boss of Tesla will specify that it was a joke…

Already annoyed by the difficulties of their club in the championship, the Mancunian fans are laughing and the twittos are unleashed against the impudent billionaire. The whimsical Elon Musk will have learned that it is less and less easy to joke about the future of football companies, loaded with likely collective emotions and heavy economic stakes…

Caprice and dream of billionaires

If the apparently surreal tweet was taken seriously for a few hours, it is because the possession of a prestigious team is a now traditional whim of the ultra-rich, Russian oligarchs, Qatari princes, but also African billionaires. The tweet of Elon Musk – South African by origin – reminds us that the richest on the African continent, the Nigerian Aliko Dangote, has been stamping his feet, for at least sixteen years, at the idea of ​​​​acquiring another club from England: Arsenal. The man who made his fortune around fertilizer, refined sugar or even cement, has reworked his announced acquisition work twenty times, in particular during acts of entrepreneurial filibustery in 2016, 2020 and 2021. Without hit. The Gunners still reluctant to marry.

A wealthy person sitting on raw materials or technologies often has the dream of impregnating contemporary culture, which through the patronage of an artist or an institution, which – therefore – through the purchase of substantial shares in an entity with sporting purpose. It is a question of “dancers” – these playthings of social upstarts –, of sincere passion, sometimes childish, of image lifting, even of political springboard. Still in Africa, the popularity that the Congolese president Moise Katumbi hopes to enjoy one day will always be somewhat tinged with the remarkable story of the “Almighty Mazembe” which is the pride of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

If fortune makes it possible to acquire a lot, it clearly did not allow Elon Musk to afford an operational sense of humor on networks of which he nevertheless makes abundant use. And to go into space, as his company SpaceX offers, you don’t need to have of the crampons…

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