Inter Milan purchased by Indonesian billionaire Erick Thohir
Thorir also owns stakes in the Philadelphia 69ers and soccer's DC United
Inter become just the second Italian team to come under foreign ownership
A U.S. consortium purchased a controlling stake in Roma in 2011
One of European football’s grandest clubs has a new owner, with an Indonesian billionaire shaking up the established order in Italy’s Serie A.
Tycoon Erick Thohir is only the second foreign owner in the Italian first division after acquiring a 70% stake in three-time European champions Inter Milan.
He has added Inter to what is fast become a comprehensive sporting profile after becoming the first Asian to own a stake in an NBA team as part of a consortium which purchased the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011.
Thohir is also one of three partners who own Washington’s Major League Soccer franchise DC United and has now followed in the footsteps of the American consortium, led by Thomas DiBenedetto, which broke new ground by purchasing Roma in 2011.
“Today is a truly special day in my life,” the 43-year-old Thohir said in a statement.
“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.”
Inter hope the ownership change will give the club “a global footprint.”
While a new phenomenon in Italy, foreign ownership is more prevalent in the rest of Europe.
The English Premier League has 11 foreign-owned clubs, including Americans in charge at Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool and Qatari money funding Manchester City’s continued growth.
Qatar also has interests at the top of the French league, with reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain bankrolled by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.
PSG’s rivals Monaco are controlled by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Thani at Malaga is the only foreign owner in Spain’s top flight, while there is no overseas ownership in Germany’s Bundesliga.
However, there will still be an Italian influence in the corridors of power at Inter’s San Siro stadium with former president Massimo Moratti staying on as a member of the board.
“I think Inter’s history is going to be enriched by a new season thanks to our new international partners who, I am sure, will contribute to a continued string of successes,” said Moratti, who has seen the team win 23 trophies under his family’s stewardship.
“The new partners’ enthusiasm and pragmatism are certainly a guarantee for the future.”
The takeover reflects Asia’s growing influence in world football, particularly in Indonesia.
English clubs Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal all play matches in the country during preseason tours, while the Chinese Super League now boasts Italian World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi, who is in place at Guangzhou Evergrande.