Erick Thohir, Indonesian Billionaire, Buys Inter Milan
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In a move that makes Inter Milan only the second foreign-owned Serie A team, Erick Thohir has bought Massimo Moratti’s, the current owner, shares of the team. With this $475 million deal, Thohir and his International Sports Capital company now own 70% of Inter Milan.
Moratti has owned the club since 1995, following previous ownership by his father during the 1960’s heyday of the team. Under Moratti, Inter Milan won five consecutive Serie A titles, from 2006-2010. In 2010, Inter Milan completed a treble by also winning the Champions League and the Italian Cup.
Since 2010, however, Inter Milan has not been able to achieve much success. Since obtaining the treble in 2010, Inter Milan has finished second, sixth, and ninth in Serie A play, respectively. During the past 4 years, Inter Milan has lost such players as Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Wesley Sneijder, Samuel Eto’o, Goran Pandev and Mario Balotelli.
Many fans hope that Thohir uses his fortune to purchase more talent. However, that decision may still be left in Moratti’s hands. When asked if he will remain president through his contract in 2014, Moratti stated, “I don’t know yet,” he said, “but I think it depends on me.”
As for Thohir himself, the Indonesian billionaire sees himself as a sports fan first, businessman second: “I am an entrepreneur, but first of all I am a supporter and a sports lover. I cannot wait to put our passion and international experience at the service of this fantastic Club and its supporters.”
Thohir is currently a part-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the MLS club DC United. Thohir gained the money to purchase these teams through the media industry, owning television, radio, and print and internet newspapers.
Thohir’s reaction to finalizing the deal was one of pure excitement: “I find it hard to find the right words to describe how I feel. I just pretend that everything is still normal. Things went fast all of a sudden, but Inter are in good hands.”
If DC United’s record is any indication of the hands that Inter Milan is going to find itself in, fans may have cause to be worried. DC United currently stands last in the Eastern Conference standings, with a record of 3-22.
However, Thohir does not plan to make changes to Inter Milan overnight: “Things will possibly change over time, but the important thing is that respect is the base of everything.”
With Moratti potentially remaining president of Inter Milan, and Thohir’s checkbook, Inter Milan fans may have cause for celebration soon. Either that, or Italian Ultras will have extra cause for wanton destruction.
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