The story of a recruitment campaign that borders on the creepy…
Jean-Michel Aulas is 67 and he’s been president of Olympique Lyonnais for 30 years. He’s a wealthy businessman who made his riches in the IT industry. And he’s obsessed with US footballer Alex Morgan.
He’s gone all out to persuade the soccer star to come and play for his team.
But the signing process hasn’t exactly been orthodox. Because Aulas conducted his pursuit of the player through that most public of channels: Twitter.
It all started with a simple retweet of a post from Megan Rapinoe praising her US teammate.
The randomness of his next effort was a taste of things to come. Aulas tagged Morgan in a tweet celebrating the unveiling of Lyon’s new stadium while showing off his new best buddy: will.i.am.
Since he got no reply, Aulas pulled a classic move: he replied to his own tweet, tagging Morgan again. ‘The best American players could play with the best European team: Olympique Lyonnais.’
He followed this up by tagging Morgan yet again, this time in reply to an announcement about Lyon winning a title…
Aulas’s Twitter stalking continued apace as he responded to a Morgan tweet about France winning its opening Euros match by showing off his beautiful stadium once more. Morgan’s tweet had been meant for her teammate Abby Wambach, who she asked to bring her back some coffee and croissants from Paris.
But Aulas couldn’t resist sticking his oar in, telling Morgan: ‘you can play in the best team in Europe with Olympique Lyonnais in the nicest stadium’.
If anyone had been hoping that Aulas might have given up by that point, they were wrong. His next step was to reply to another Morgan tweet in which she talked about her preparation for the Olympics: ‘…after Rio road to Olympique Lyonnais in the best team in Europe… We are waiting…’ he wrote.
Aulas had yet to receive a response, so he decided to up the ante. He replied to the same tweet from Morgan with a comment that somewhat belittled the player’s Olympic adventure: ‘yes to Rio but it’s more important road to Lyon’.
Next: he tagged Morgan in a photo of Lyon’s women’s team… in which, of course, Morgan was still conspicuously absent.
By September, it seemed that whatever the player posted, Aulas would take the opportunity to continue his clumsy courtship. Like when she announced the release of The Kicks, her new TV series about four football-playing friends…
The penultimate chapter in the epic tale of Aulas and Morgan saw the Frenchman return to his favourite tactic: disapproving of any action the player took that wasn’t jumping on the next plane to Lyon. Morgan posted a selfie encouraging her friends to vote on November 4. Aulas’s somewhat condescending response was: ‘The most important thing for you is to be the best player with FIFA and with the best club in Lyon’.
And guess what? It worked. Just before Christmas, Alex Morgan signed a six-month contract with Olympique Lyonnais. The president has admitted that as well as private talks between the club and Morgan’s agents, he put a little ‘friendly pressure on her via social media’.
At long last, Aulas could crack out the champagne emoji.