PARIS (AP) — Pape Diouf, a former Marseille president who led the French soccer club from 2005-09, has died after contracting the coronavirus. He was 68.
Marseille confirmed the death on Wednesday on its official website, saying Diouf died on Tuesday. The French soccer federation said he died from the coronavirus.
Diouf was a charismatic and popular president who was close to the fans and players.
“Pape will forever remain in the hearts of Marseille people and one of the great architects of the club,” Marseille wrote under a photo of the Senegal native.
Although Marseille did not win a trophy when Diouf was president, he oversaw a period of stability during which the club qualified for the Champions League.
The French soccer league called Diouf’s death “a moment of immense sadness for French soccer” and expressed its “condolences to his family, his loved ones and Marseille.”
French soccer federation president Noël Le Graët also praised Diouf.
“A man of quality, unique, listened to and respected,” Le Graët said. “He was passionate, with convictions and always extremely courteous.”
Long-serving Lyon president remembered Diouf fondly from their time as adversaries.
“We had a relationship which went beyond esteem and respect,” Aulas said on sports daily L’Equipe’s website. “He was a respectable and respected man for everything he achieved but also for his sensibility. That’s why we had a close relationship.”