Zidane promoter's nightmare

BOB MACKIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

The promoter of Zinedine Zidane's Canadian tour called it a "crazy dream" to bring the retired French star to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

But it turned into a nightmare with threats of lawsuits.

"My biggest problem was people who didn't believe in the beginning that I could bring Zidane here," said Ahcene Adlani.

Adlani failed to get a sponsor, except for a uniform supplier, and neither the Montreal Impact nor Vancouver Whitecaps were interested. "When both of them said no, I said what is the point [with asking Toronto FC]?"

A friend in Algeria loaned 100,000 Euros and two locals put up $110,0000. By then, Adlani said, it was too late to delay the games to 2010. A marketing company he hired disobeyed orders to set up news conferences instead of advertising. He wanted Olympic Stadium in Montreal, but got Molson Stadium three weeks before the June 28 game which drew 13,000. Toronto drew 8,100 on June 25 at BMO Field. Both games grossed $530,000, he said.

"I never touched a penny, all the money passed through the lawyer, a trust fund, so they can reimburse the lenders," Adlani said.

Adlani claimed B.C. Place Stadium kept the entire $55,000 deposit after the July 4 game was moved to July 12 at Swangard Stadium because of Zidane's Canada Day injury. Adlani did not witness Zidane hurt his back picking up his child, but "I saw his family surrounding him, he was sitting, his hands became white, unbelievable. He was shivering, they covered him."

After Lynn Valley physiotherapist and ex-Whitecap Nico Berg treated Zidane, Adlani wanted to cancel. Zidane insisted he didn't want to disappoint fans, so he returned July 12 and played with Metro and Fraser Valley all-stars before 4,000 fans. Adlani said the match grossed $70,000.

Toronto organizer Anthony Huie claims Adlani owes $85,000 in expenses. French agent Giorgio Bisson said he is owed commissions for arranging contracts for Zidane and players who were advertised but did not come. Bisson said Adlani did not forward airplane tickets.

Adlani said Huie agreed to pay expenses and take 25 per cent of profits, while Bisson tried selling him retired players, coaches and referees he didn't want.

"What I'd do differently is get more time first, get sponsors first," he said.


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