Paris Saint-Germain Football Club (French pronunciation: [paʁi sɛ̃ ʒɛʁmɛ̃]), commonly referred to as PSG, is a French professional association football club based in Paris, whose first team play in the highest tier of French football, the Ligue 1. The team was formed in 1970 by the merger of Paris FC and Stade Saint-Germain.
Domestically, PSG have won five Ligue 1 titles, nine Coupe de France, a record five Coupe de la Ligue, five Trophée des Champions and the Ligue 2 title once. In international club football, the Parisian side have won one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and one UEFA Intertoto Cup. PSG is the joint-most successful club in France and one of only two French clubs (with Olympique de Marseille) to win a major European club competition.
The Parc des Princes has been the home stadium of PSG since 1974. The Camp des Loges has served as the club's training centre since 1970. The Tournoi de Paris has been hosted by the capital club at Le Parc since 1975. PSG shares an intense rivalry with Marseille and contest the most notorious football match in France, known as Le Classique. PSG is the second-highest supported football club in France after rivals Marseille.Qatar Sports Investments became the club's sole shareholder in 2012. The takeover made PSG the richest club in France and amongst the richest in the world.
The crest and shirt of the club were mainly designed by Daniel Hechter. The traditional shirt is blue with a red central vertical bar framed by white edgings. "Allez Paris Saint-Germain", to the tune of "Go West" by Pet Shop Boys, is the official anthem of PSG. However, "Ville Lumière" is considered by the fans to be one of PSG's most emblematic songs. Germain the Lynx is the club's mascot."Ici, c'est Paris!" and "Paris est magique!" are the club's most popular mottos.
Towards the end of the 1960s, an ambitious group of businessmen decided to create a major club in the French capital. They chose to merge their virtual side, Paris FC, with Stade Saint-Germain after the team from Saint-Germain-en-Laye, located 15 kilometres west of Paris, won promotion to Ligue 2. Paris Saint-Germain Football Club was founded on 12 August 1970. PSG made an immediate impact both on and off the pitch; the club built a substantial fanbase, won the Ligue 2 title and celebrated their first birthday in Ligue 1. Their momentum was soon checked, however, and the club split in 1972; Paris FC remained in the top-flight while PSG were demoted to Division 3. Two seasons later, however, PSG returned to Ligue 1, moving into the Parc des Princes in 1974.
The club's trophy cabinet welcomed its first major silverware in the shape of the Coupe de France in 1981-82. On 15 May 1982, PSG defeated Saint-Étienne, and a certain Michel Platini, in the final, and on June 11, the following year, made it back-to-back cups in beating Nantes. Coach Gérard Houllier then led the team to their maiden league success in 1986, with Safet Sušić pulling the strings in midfield. Success on the domestic front meant PSG flew France’s colours on the European stage. The best result was a quarter-final appearance in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in March 1983, against the Belgian outfit Waterschei.
An even brighter era dawned when Canal+ took over in 1991. Thanks to the investment of their owners and with successful coaches Artur Jorge and Luis Fernández, an avalanche of trophies followed. PSG were on the move and between 1992 and 1998 they contested two UEFA Cup Winners' Cup finals - winning in 1996 - reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals once and twice advanced to the same stage of the UEFA Cup. Domestically, they were enjoying as much success as George Weah, Raí, Leonardo and a strong spine of homegrown talent became the darlings of French football. PSG celebrated their second league title in 1994, lifting the Coupe de France three times, the Coupe de la Ligue twice and Trophée des Champions twice before the turn of the century.
PSG launched the new millennium by claiming the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup, followed by three French Cups and one League Cup. Cup successes notwithstanding, the early 2000s were tough for PSG, who flirted with relegation on occasion as a combination of high expectations and intense media pressure took their toll. It was not until the club was purchased by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, following two years of solid progress and stability under coach Antoine Kombouaré and President Robin Leproux, that PSG finally restored a sense of balance. Club legend Leonardo was brought back in a sporting director capacity and oversaw a spending spree that has so far been unprecedented in Ligue 1 history.
Reinforced by new star Zlatan Ibrahimović and under famous coach Carlo Ancelotti, Paris warmed up for the 2012-13 season with the aim of winning the club's first league title since 1994. Zlatan’s 30-goal haul almost single-handedly led the capital side to the crown. Now led by Laurent Blanc, who succeeded Ancelotti, PSG won the Trophée des Champions against Bordeaux (2-1) in the 2013-14 season curtain-raiser. And for the first time in the club's history, Les Parisiens defended the title and also secured a maiden league and domestic cup double thanks to Edinson Cavani's brace in the 2014 Coupe de la Ligue Final win over Lyon. Paris then left their mark on French football in the 2014-15 season by claiming an unprecedented domestic quadruple: the Ligue 1, the Coupe de France, the Coupe de la Ligue and the Trophée des Champions.
The first crest of Paris Saint-Germain (or Paris FC logo), surfaced in 1970 and was used during the following two seasons. It consisted of a ball and a vessel, two powerful symbols of Paris. After the split from Paris FC in 1972, PSG created their historical crest, known as the Eiffel Tower logo. It consisted of a red silhouette of the Eiffel Tower with the cradle of French King Louis XIV and the fleur de lys in white between its legs on a blue background with white edging. The red of the Eiffel Tower and the blue of the background are the two colours of Paris, a reference to La Fayette and Jean Sylvain Bailly, two key figures of the French Revolution in 1789. The white is a hint to the coat of arms of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and it is also the color of royalty. The cradle and the fleur-de-lis recall that Louis XIV was born in Saint Germain-en-Laye in 1638. The colours of PSG are the traces of the union between Paris and Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
According to former PSG coach Robert Vicot, fashion designer Daniel Hechter introduced the Eiffel Tower in the crest before a certain Mr. Vallot had the idea of placing the birthplace of Louis XIV underneath the tower. Former PSG shareholder Canal+ was the first to replace the historical crest in 1994. The new model had the acronym "PSG" and underneath it "Paris Saint-Germain." However, the supporters' anger caused the historical crest to return in 1995.
The historical crest received a makeover in 2013 under PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi's approval with a renovated and modern design. PSG shareholder Qatar Sports Investments wanted to take full advantage of the city's global appeal and the new crest clearly brought to the fore the name "PARIS," which is written in large bold letters. On top of that, the cradle which marked the birth of Louis XIV was discarded and in place the fleur-de-lis sits solely under the Eiffel Tower. Also, the founding year 1970 made way with "Saint-Germain" taking its place at the bottom.
Following their foundation in 1970, Paris Saint-Germain adopted a red shirt with white shorts and blue socks to meet the three club colours: the red and the blue of Paris and the white of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Upon the arrival of fashion designer Daniel Hechter as PSG president in 1973, he conceived the club's traditional shirt. The so-called Hechter shirt was blue with a red central and vertical band framed by white edgings. Hechter draw inspiration from his own design of the Eiffel Tower logo to create the famous shirt that premiered in the 1973-74 season. Hechter also designed the away shirt—it was white with a fine blue band on the heart framed by red and white edgings.
The 1980s were characterised by the establishment of the white home shirt decorated with a fine red and blue vertical band on the heart from the 1981-82 season onwards. It stood as home shirt during nine seasons. The Hechter home design, meanwhile, remained as the away outfit.
The 1990s began with a few fantasies from new kit supplier Nike. Under pressure from supporters, however, the Hechter home shirt returned in 1994 and remained until 2000. The away shirt was white with a red central and vertical band framed by blue edgings. It stood until 1999-2000, when the away shirt became grey.
Nike continued their attempts to drift PSG away from their traditional shirt during the 2000s. It all began with the disappearance of the white edgings in 2000-01. A season later, the red band of the home shirt was reduced and moved to the heart. The away shirt, meanwhile, went from grey to the 1980s white home shirt, then changed to an American baseball shirt lookalike and later was chocolate brown. Anecdotally, a third black jersey was used just once in a defeat away to Marseille. Five seasons of experiments later, the Hechter shirt briefly returned in 2005-06, only to reappear in 2008-09 thanks to the protests of fans. However, during 2009-10, a blue shirt with red pinstripes surfaced, accompanied by a white away shirt featuring blue and red dotts.
The current decade began with a nod to the past. PSG were celebrating their 40th anniversary in the summer of 2010 and presented a red shirt reminiscent to the one worn in the 1970-71 season. Away matches were played with the Hecther design. The latter took its rightful place as home shirt in 2011-12, while the away jersey was white with a horizontal red band on the chest. Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, PSG were granted permission by the club's sponsors Emirates to wear the message 'Je suis Paris' on the team's jersey for two matches.
The Stade Municipal Georges Lefèvre is a sports complex located just across the street from the Camp des Loges, the training centre of PSG. The artificial turf and grass football fields of the facility currently host training sessions and home matches for the PSG Youth Academy. Formerly, it was the home of now-defunct Stade Saint-Germain from 1904 until their merger with fellow local club Paris FC to form Paris Saint-Germain Football Club in 1970. The new club "inherited" the Stade Georges Lefèvre as their home stadium. PSG moved to the Parc des Princes in 1974.
Paris Saint-Germain played their first match at the Parc des Princes against Red Star Paris on 10 November 1973. PSG became the sole tenant of the Parc des Princes in July 1974. The club's shareholders Canal+ took control of the SESE, the company which holds the concession of the Parc des Princes, in 1992. The City of Paris extended the concession of the stadium for another 15 years in 1999. PSG completely took over the Parc des Princes and the capital club's headquarters were moved to a new edifice within the stadium in 2002. PSG's highest average home attendance was registered during the 2013-14 season with 45,420 spectators per match. PSG's record home attendance is 49,407 spectators and was registered in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals match against Waterschei in 1983.
The Camp des Loges has been the training centre of PSG since their foundation in 1970. Since 1974, it has also served as the home facility for the Youth Academy and Female teams. It was renovated in 2008.
Paris Saint-Germain is the second-most popular football club in France after Marseille. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is one of the club's most prominent supporters. PSG is known to draw their support from both far-right white nationalists and Île de France's multi-ethnic population. During the 1970s, PSG were struggling to attract a fervent fan-base to the Parc des Princes and so decided to offer cheap tickets in the Boulogne to young people. The offer was a big hit and the new fans, influenced by Liverpool's famous Spion Kop stand in Anfield, created the Kop of Boulogne stand (KoB), which immersed in casual hooligan culture. The dubious English role model was the inspiration behind France's most infamous fans, the kobistes. These fans shaped the most notorious stand in French football. The home of French hooliganism, the KoB have been synonymous with violence, racism and fascism since the 1980s, when skinheads took over part of the stand, lending the name far‑right connotations. Separate gangs were formed in the KoB, united under an English inspirated logo: a bulldog's head on a tricolor map of France. The Boulogne Boys, the most high-profile of these groups, were formed in 1985. The KoB became the core not only of the most loyal PSG fans, but also of the most extremist. The Parc des Princes became known as the most hostile stadium in France.
Despite PSG winning Ligue 1 in 1986, the team enjoyed their worst top flight attendance record in 1991. The press considered the violence at the stadium to be the culprit. Concerned by the racist and violent behaviour from fans at the KoB, the PSG board subsidised the creation of a rival kop at the other end, the Auteuil, presumably to marginalise the troublemakers. And so the Supras Auteuil and the Tigris Mystic, the most high-profile groups of the Auteuil, appeared in the early 1990s. However, this resulted in a new problem as the Auteuil became the home of multicultural PSG fans who were unwelcome in the predominantly white KoB. Although tentative moves to break up the KoB were made, violence escalated. Incidents occurred wherever PSG travelled and only multiplied with the emergence of rival stand Auteuil. Unlike the English-inspired KoB, Auteuil fans stylised their support on the Italian ultra model. Average attendance at the Parc des Princes soared, but the violence continued with injuries and arrests especially in Le Classique against arch-rivals Marseille. Additionally, the Boulogne Boys, one of Ligue 1's most notorious firm, fought throughout the 1990s and 2000s with fans of clubs from all over Europe.
PSG fans have been killed in the crossfire. After a 2006 UEFA Cup match against Hapoel Tel Aviv at the Parc des Princes, KoB member Julien Quemener was shot and killed by a police officer trying to protect a Hapoel supporter whom the group were attacking. The KoB also unfurled a banner which referred to Lens fans as incestuous, jobless paedophiles during the 2008 League Cup Final. The episode led to the dissolution of the Boulogne Boys, one of the oldest hooligan groups in France. Additionally, PSG fans spend more time fighting against each other, than fighting against other teams' counterparts. The KoB groups first targeted Tigris Mystic, which dissolved in 2006 due to the attacks. The violence re-emerged in 2009, when the kobistes ire was trained on the Supras Auteuil, who responded in kind. Ahead of a league match against Marseille in 2010, the Supras murdered KoB member Yann Lorence. The event led to the dissolution of the Supras Auteuil. PSG had lost their two major supporters groups in the space of two years. The club then launched "Tous PSG," an anti-violence plan that dissolved all supporters groups in the stadium. PSG allowed them back in 2011. Minor groups such as Hoolicool, Titi-Fosi and Vikings 27 returned, but the majority of the old, violence-inducing ultras did not.
Le Classique, also known as the Derby de France, is a football match contested between French top-flight clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille. Unlike most derbies, Le Classique is not a product of close proximities—it involves the two largest cities in France. It features the hub of French society and style in Paris against the port city of the working class in Marseille. North-against-south and the kingpin of the southern provinces against the political center of the capital city adds the political dimension to this rivalry. PSG vs. OM is considered to be the fiercest rivalry in the country and one of the greatest in club football.
The duo are the only two French clubs to have won European trophies and were the dominant forces in the land prior to the emergence of Olympique Lyonnais at the start of the millennium. They still remain, along with Saint-Étienne, the only French clubs with a truly national fan base, adding to the appeal of the country's biggest fixture. They are the two most popular clubs in France, and are also the most followed French clubs outside the country. Both teams are at or near the top of the attendance lists every year as well.
OM and PSG fans have tense relations, and various groups of Marseille and Parisian supporters have hated and battled each other. Important security measures are taken to prevent confrontations between the fans, but violent episodes still often occur when the duo meet. Despite the hostilities, many players have worn the shirt of both clubs and have subsequently suffered abuses from the supporters.
Ownership and finances
Paris Saint-Germain were founded in 1970 thanks to the financial backing from local wealthy businessmen Guy Crescent, Pierre-Étienne Guyot and Henri Patrelle. However, since their inception, PSG have experienced some periodic economic difficulties. Despite a good debut during the 1970-71 season with a profit of 1.5 million francs, the trend reversed and the club's debt increased throughout the years. PSG President Henri Patrelle, searching for financial support, made way for investor Daniel Hechter in 1973 and the club attained professional status. Hechter was later banned for life from football by the French Football Federation following the scandal of double ticketing at the Parc des Princes in 1978. Francis Borelli replaced him. However, Borelli's old-style management didn't handle properly the emergent football business during the 1980s. Thus, by the early 1990s, PSG were in serious financial trouble with a debt of 50 million francs. For the first time, the Paris City Council, presided by the mayor of Paris, refused to wipe the slate clean.
French TV channel Canal+ gave reprieve to the ailing Paris Saint-Germain after purchasing it in 1991. PSG received a whopping 40% of their income from televised games and became one of the richest clubs in France. Canal+ became the club's majority shareholder in 1997 and sole shareholder in 2005. Canal+ managed the club through delegated-president Michel Denisot during the 1990s. From 1991 to 1998, PSG maintained their finances healthy and the club's expenditures stood at €50 million per season thanks to the rise of television rights and the increasing number of spectators at the Parc des Princes, as well as an excellent performance in national and European competitions. Following the departure of Michel Denisot in 1998, the club began to accumulate debts that reached €96 million in 2002. The net debt fell to €8 million in 2004 after recapitalising the club. PSG's finances, however, remained red. Between 2004 and 2006, PSG were the only French club with a large deficit, registering losses of €30 million. The club's turnover, however, increased from €69 million to €80 milliopn.
Canal+ sold PSG to investment firms Colony Capital, Butler Capital Partners and Morgan Stanley for €41 million in 2006. The club's debt was wiped out by Canal+. Under their new owners, PSG's turnover reached €100 million and the losses gradually decreased to only €5 million in 2009. Colony Capital purchased the majority of the shares of Butler Capital Partners in 2008, though they retained a 5% stake in PSG. Colony Capital acquired all the shares of Morgan Stanley in 2009, becoming owners of 95% of the club, and then revealed in 2010 that they were looking for new investors to make PSG a true title contender for years to come.
In 2011, Qatar Sports Investments became the majority shareholder of PSG after buying a controlling 70% of the shares. Colony Capital (29%) and Butler Capital Partners (1%) remained minority shareholders. QSI bought the club in a deal worth €50 million, which covered an estimated €15-20 million in debt and €19 million in losses from the 2010-11 season. Consequently, PSG became the richest club in France and one of the richest clubs in the world. QSI later purchased the remaining 30% stake and became the sole shareholder of PSG in 2012. The transaction valued the entire club at €100m. PSG were named the best paid team in global sport according to Sportingintelligence’s Global Sports Salaries Survey (GSSS) for 2015, compiled in association with ESPN The Magazine.