Hard hit by the Covid-19, the president of Racing 92 wanted to highlight the nursing staff on the poster of the Ile-de-France club.
Affected by Covid-19 and hospitalized for twenty-one days in intensive care, Jacky Lorenzetti, 73 in January, unveils exclusively at Figaro the new Racing 92 poster which pays tribute to nursing staff. He also evokes the complicated economic situation of the Arena which he owns.
Le Figaro. Why did you decide to put nursing staff in the spotlight on the Racing 92 season poster?
Jacky Lorenzetti: In the Arena locker room and at the Racing training center, a large board with the team and staff is displayed every year. It has been something very institutional for fourteen years. This year, it seemed necessary to me to do something else. We are children of peace, we have never known conflicts, but we will have known the Covid. I couldn’t see myself making the same poster again and sticking it on the wall. I wanted in Racing to remember this terrible year 2020 for thousands of people. I wanted people to remember that in hospitals there are caregivers, nurses, doctors who fought, who delivered a real game for life. I wanted us to be able to remember it and thank all these people who did an extraordinary job.
On a personal level, you have contracted Covid-19 …
It is also a personal testimony, yes. I spent twenty-one days in intensive care and it is not a good memory… I had an oxygen mask, I was put on air every hour. There was a moment when I was not reassured. But, thanks to these people, I got through it. When you’re a business leader, it’s hard to admit that you can be less strong than adversity. Even though I learned humility with rugby, the Covid gave me a dose. We are not immune to anything and it does not happen to others. In the future, I will always be as demanding of myself but maybe more tempered with others.
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Are you going to put this poster up outside the club?
Yes. Obviously at the Arena. We will pass it before each match to show the nursing staff that we are thinking of them. The club and its partners have made great efforts. During the first confinement, we had made an agreement with the Foundation of hospitals in France. With one of our partners, we distributed 1,000 tablets in nursing homes and hospitals to help patients fight against loneliness. With the association Oval Citizen, which we have followed since its creation, Racing players have mobilized to collect food. Everyone brings their small contribution. Players also give gifts for Catholic Relief.
“We think that from the fourth quarter of next year, and in any case in 2022, we will return to a normal situation”
Last January, you opened the Arena to accommodate the homeless. Are you going to renew this operation?
We will reopen it, yes. We cannot imagine that we cannot accommodate people if the winter is severe. We can’t let people out.
Regarding the Arena, you filed a complaint against the State for the unfounded nature of the restrictions. Where is the procedure?
Surely rightly, the public authorities decided to close the Arena. We had to put a hundred employees on technical unemployment. Among our partners, many are loyal but others are in difficulty. As of September 30, this has caused us a loss of 25 million euros. That’s a lot of money. I remind you that the Arena was built on own funds, the state did not help us. It is a company that deserves to be helped… We are in the amicable solicitation phase, we have made a referral to the Prime Minister. He has two months to respond. At the end of these two months, we’ll see …
Do you manage to plan for the reopening of the Arena?
We are like everyone else. The question is: when will life resume normally? For us, certainly not until the end of next summer. Maybe with “degraded” gauges, even if that is not appetizing as a name. We think that from the fourth quarter of next year, and in any case in 2022, we will return to a normal situation. We have a touch of hope. Tickets were put on sale for a Sexion d’Assaut concert at the end of September. In three days, all the tickets were gone. We added a second date. We have already sold 30,000 tickets …