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🔥Upside Chat: Christophe Mongai, CEO of USM FOOTBALL, a Leading Professional Football Player Agency (France)
This week we have the honor to interview Christophe Mongai, CEO of USM FOOTBALL, a professional football player agency located in France. USM FOOTBALL is one of the most important professional football player agencies in Europe with more than 1,400 transactions carried out since 1999, including 70 this year.
Here is the video interview with Christophe Mongai, CEO of USM FOOTBALL:
📝Show Notes: Through this video interview, we touched on his background, his agency, and the growing appetite from players and clubs regarding technologies. We also discussed the state of the football player agent market in France.
Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Christophe:
On his passion for Football and how he ended up working in the world of professional football:
“I have always been passionate about football since I was young. I'm a bit like Obelix. I fell into the football pot (…) But my dream was always to work one day in the world of professional football. So in 1989, I joined the newspaper Le Provençal as a correspondent and I started working in their sports department where I was covering football games in National 2 and National (Division 3 in France). And so that’s the way I started. I then became a freelancer for several newspapers like France Football, and so on. I worked as a journalist from 1989 to 1998-1999 for about ten years”.
On how he ended up creating his football player agency:
“Back then there were two newspapers Le Provençal and Le Méridional. They merged and it became La Provence. And so I worked for La Provence, in the sports department in Vitrolles, Martigues, and Istres. Back then I was covering the local clubs. These clubs later became clubs which played in the National or in the Ligue 2 (French soccer second division)”.
“And I built my network among professional players. From time to time, I also went to see l’Olympique de Marseille (OM) matches, and I knew a lot of OM players. And so as soon as I finished my studies in 1998, and I did a four-year master's degree in international management at a school in Marseille, I launched my own football player agency and received my agent license in 1999, so right after the 1998 Soccer World Cup in France”.
On how he started working as a Football agent:
“I started working with players from Football teams at Istres and Martigues, then I managed one player, two players and two players. Then the players from Istres and Martigues got traded to some other clubs, and little by little, it started like that. We are currently doing very well”.
“It was not easy at the beginning because it requires a lot of time and money. But I started out that way. It cost me dearly in terms of travel expenses. It doesn't seem like it, but if you don't have the financial means to finance your travel expenses, it is difficult”.
“So at the beginning, I had to takes some loans from various banks and credit organizations. Back then I was driving an old Peugeot 205 and I was driving 150,000 kilometers a year”.
On his football player agency:
“We have managed the careers of many football players such as Touré, Mario Yepes, Néné, Sana, Frederic Kanouté, Mathieu, Coulibaly, Adriano, Sagna, Song, Penneteau, N'Diaye, Lemoine, Danzé, and hundreds and hundreds of players. Since 1998-1999 we have managed 1400 transactions, including 70 transactions this year. I used to say we are like a surgeon who has performed 1400 knee operations”.
“50% of the football players that we manage play in the French soccer league and the other 50% play internationally”.
“We have branches and a network all over the world such as in Switzerland, Romania, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain”.
On his personal interest for new technologies:
“So I am very very fond of the use of data and new technologies partially because I'm a big fan of the NRL (National Rugby League) and they were the ones who initially developed all these tools with the National Rugby League”.
“More and more football clubs are looking into data, new technologies and as well as everything that can make it possible to erase the uncertainties”.
On the growing appetite from Ligue 1 Football clubs towards data and emerging technologies:
“In Ligue 1, there are clubs such as Toulouse FC which last year were at the forefront of data, it partially allowed them to move up from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1. And afterwards in Ligue 1 it becomes even more difficult because higher budgets are needed to buy the best players, but more and more clubs have access to data on the physical performance of players, etc. They are more and more fond of it”.
On the fact that an increasing number of football players are interested in technologies:
“There is a growing interest from players towards technologies. It started six seven years ago. At the time, there were mainly recovery tools used by the physiotherapists. These tools were used around the thighs, the calves, and the knees. At the time, it was really about recovery tools and injury prevention tools with electrodes, and so on. Now there are players who pay attention to everything”.
“The players will question why their heart beat is down and how because the player's greatest fear is injury. So the more they are informed on the tools being used, their body, the better. Ultimately their body is their armor and their protection. There are players who are very interested in all these things”.
On the state of the Football player agent market in France:
“When I started, there were 20 players' agents and now the French Federation has 400 or 500 licensed football agents. I'm not talking about cousins, brothers, uncles, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends of dads, moms, educators, who all want to be agents because they all think that they have discovered the next Mbappé (..). I'm not talking about all the pseudo agents who swarm on all the football fields. It's a job, it's very very difficult job. I'm not going to say impossible, but it's very very very difficult”.
“Today, there are 500 licensed agents but there are 1,000 unlicensed agents. These are parents or cousins. There are 30 players per team in France. With young people, we are talking about 50 players and there are 40 professional teams, so in total there are 2,000 professional players on the way to becoming one. So there are more agents or pseudo-agents than players, so it's very complicated”.
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