Interview: Breel Embolo’s World Cup begins with an “emotional” match

Torn between representing Switzerland or Cameroon, AS Monaco’s Breel Embolo opted for the former, and now prepares to face the latter in an “emotional” World Cup opener.

In an interview with Monaco Life, Embolo discusses that “difficult decision” as well as addressing his start to life in the Principality and his personal objectives for a World Cup campaign that gets underway against Cameroon on Thursday 24th November.

Born in 1997 in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, Embolo moved to Switzerland — via France — at a young age. Having come through the ranks at Young Boys and then at Basel, Embolo was faced with the “difficult” decision of choosing his international allegiance before he was even considered a legal adult.

A “difficult” choice

“When I chose to play for Switzerland, there was always a part of me that wanted to represent my country of birth,” Embolo explains. “I am very happy with my choice, and I am Cameroon’s biggest fan.”

He is now 25 years old, but still reflects on that time: “I was 17-years-old. It was a difficult time. I pushed back my decision for a few months. I remember that I even had the chance to join up with the Cameroon squad. It wasn’t an easy choice, but my family respected it, and that’s the most important thing.”

Despite opting to play for Switzerland, Embolo admits that he is still “very close” to his country of birth.

“Most of my family live there. I try to go back once or twice a year to keep that link to Cameroon. It’s important for me not to forget where I come from.”

He is now preparing to face his country of birth in Switzerland’s World Cup opener, which evokes a set of mixed emotions.

“It’s a special match for me and my family, and I know there will be lots of emotions,” he tells Monaco Life. “It will be a big moment for my family. It was an emotional moment when the draw was made. I must confess I didn’t exactly jump for joy.”

The Swiss team then goes on to face Brazil and Serbia in their World Cup group. Coincidentally, Switzerland faced both sides in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Familiar faces

Asked if he is disappointed to be drawn against familiar faces, Embolo responds, “Yes. Especially to be drawn against Serbia with everything that happened after the group stage match in 2018, but it remains a football match.”

Back then, Swiss teammates Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, both of Kosovan descent, demonstrated support of Kosovo, which is a country unrecognised by Serbia. The pair were later investigated by FIFA for the gesture, and tensions between the two countries remain high.

“There are also lots of discussions around Qatar, who are hosting this slightly special World Cup. It is up to us to bring joy to our supporters. Playing against Brazil is a dream, but when you find yourself in almost the same group as four years ago, it’s a bit strange. But we’re happy and impatient to compare ourselves against teams like that.”

While Switzerland finds itself in a difficult group, Embolo reveals that both he and his country have high expectations going into the tournament.

“We don’t have any limits,” he says with confidence. “We have learnt a lot in the past few years, and not just in the World Cup, but also in the Euros and in the Nations League as well. We have a young and tight-knit group, but also with a lot of experience and a lot of quality. We are going to try to move to the next level. We’re all ambitious. I’m not just talking about myself, but about everyone.”

Ambition, confidence and experience

Embolo is heading into his second World Cup, but despite having prior experience of competing in the most prestigious tournament on the planet, he isn’t yet assuming a leadership role.

“[To play in my second World Cup is] an immense pride,” he says. “Playing in the World Cup is hardly trivial. When you play football as a child, you have just one dream: to play in a World Cup. To play my second World Cup at the age of 25 is a great thing. My role is to give everything to help the team win. I have done that since my arrival in the national team at the age of 18. I’m still not one of the old ones! My role is different to that of your Xhaka’s, Fabin Schär’s or Ricardo Rodriguez’s. But people expect things from me. I’m aware of that and I want to live up to it.”

Those expectations are linked not only to his experience, but also to his form at club level. Since his arrival at AS Monaco from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer, he has hit the ground running, scoring eight goals in his first 23 appearances for the Principality side.

However, he still expects more from himself.

“I am trying to grow and to learn more and give the best side of myself, but of course that isn’t always easy. When I came to Monaco, I always said that I wasn’t coming to have a holiday. I came here to progress. I learn a lot from training with Wissam Ben Yedder, Aleksandr Golovin, Kevin Volland and Myron Boadu. I haven’t yet reached the peak of my abilities.”

As far as pedagogical experiences go, being a (relatively) senior member in a World Cup and leading the line for your country is about as good as it gets. While he doesn’t believe he has “peaked”, Embolo could make a significant step towards reaching that optimal level, and despite the timing of the competition and the myriad of controversies engulfing the Qatar World Cup, he is looking forward to getting going.

“We don’t decide the timing, but the joy is the same,” he muses. “It’s true that in the summer, you have three or four weeks of preparation, which means you have time if you turn up for international duty with a little niggle, that’s happened with me before. It’s a bit special because we [are] going straight there, so there isn’t the time to look forward. But we all can’t wait.”

Embolo hasn’t set a ceiling on his personal and collective ambition, and now is the time to live up to those high expectations that he has of himself and of his international teammates.



Photo credit: Sven Mandel


A tragedy that will forever mark the Route du Rhum 2022

The tragic and untimely deaths of two people during the 2022 Route du Rhum are being examined by the Attorney General of Guadeloupe, who says he will “continue the investigations to understand what may have happened”.  

What should have been a celebratory moment at the end of the annual Route du Rhum sailing race turned disastrous as a boat carrying nearly a dozen support workers capsized in the bay, killing two, including 35-year-old François Naveilhan, who once worked for local Ligue 1 football team, OGC Nice.  

The race, which starts in Saint Malo, France, and ends in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, is a highlight of the racing season, and this tragedy has hit the sailing community hard.  

Guadeloupe’s Attorney General, Patrick Desjardins, has been assigned the sad task of getting to the bottom of the event, and spoke earlier this week to France 3 Côte d’Azur to lay out what is known so far. 

An early timeline of the incident

“This accident, with certainty, did not result from a collision between several boats, nor did it result from a bad manoeuvre which would have destabilised it,” said Desjardins.  

It is alleged the incident occurred in the early hours of 16th November, at around 5am, when the boat hit an oncoming wave that caused it to flip over, trapping a number of the people onboard beneath the vessel. Some of those trapped, it is believed, were unable to free themselves because of the buoyancy of their life vests.   

“The safety conditions of the boat were met, there was no overload, the life jackets had been distributed and the passengers were carrying them,” Desjardins continued. “There is no obligation for a captain to insist on his passengers wearing vests [but] there must be as many vests as passengers. The captain’s choice was [for them] to have them worn from the start. This shows he was aware of safety measures.” 

The 21-year-old captain, an as-yet unnamed freelance tour guide, did not have authorisation to sail at night, and was taken into custody on 17th November, the day after the event. He was brought before an investigating judge the following day and the public prosecutor’s office opened a judicial investigation into the counts of manslaughter and involuntary injury by inattention as well as breaches of security obligations.  

“The challenge is to continue the investigations and to understand what may have happened, to hear the witnesses, and to understand the conditions under which this boat was able to receive official authorisation to accommodate staff or guests of the Route du Rhum,” said the Attorney General.  

It has been reported that Ineos-owned OGC Nice will be holding a tribute to its former employee as soon as the championship returns on 29th December. 



Photo source: Ronan Potier

Reopening of the Consulate of Monaco in Greece

The Consulate of Monaco in Greece has reopened, at a new address, following the appointment of Dr. Vassilis G. Apostolopoulos as Honorary Consul of Monaco with headquarters in Athens and jurisdiction over the entire Greek Territory.

“I am particularly happy that my more than 20-year relationship and love for the Principality is sealed with the great honor of my appointment by Prince Albert II of Monaco as Honorary Consul of the Principality in Greece,” said Dr. Vassilis G. Apostolopoulos. “I will work continuously and methodically to promote the bilateral economic, diplomatic & cultural relations between the two countries.”

Vassilis G. Apostolopoulos studied at the London School of Economics and Cambridge and is the CEO of  the Athens Medical Group, which has 3,000 employees and 2,500 collaborating doctors. He also sits at the helm of the Hellenic Association of Entrepreneurs (EENE), working to strengthen and scale-up Hellenic entrepreneurship.



Monaco crowned French Rugby Sevens champions

Monaco Rugby Sevens were crowned Champions of France on Saturday, beating Section Paloise 24-14 to secure the biggest title in the club’s history following a dominant campaign. 

This always looked like Monaco’s year. The Principality side narrowly lost to the Barbarians in Paris last year, but having won two of the three stages on their way to this year’s grand finale, they looked primed to make up for that agonising defeat.

Jérémy Aicardi’s men made light work of La Rochelle in their opening match in the La Défense Arena in Paris (25-12). Whilst Stade Français provided a sterner test in the semi-final, their place in the final never looked in doubt. In Section Paloise, Monaco was coming up against the only team that came close to matching their level in the previous qualifying stages.

However, the Monégasques were dominant, and maintained a firm grasp on the tie from start to finish. Tries from Tom Mitchell and Jonas Mikalcius gave Monaco a comfortable half-time lead (12-0). Whilst Paloise came into the game in the second half, they could never close the gap to their rivals.

Monaco, at their fourth attempt, were finally crowned champions of France.



Photo by Hugo Visuals 

Prince Albert sends “thoughts and prayers” to Indonesia following deadly earthquake

Prince Albert has sent his condolences to the President and people of Indonesia after a deadly earthquake hit the country on Monday.

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck the heavily populated town of West Java after lunchtime on Monday, reducing scores of buildings to rubble. Many people were crushed or trapped when walls and roofs caved in, most of the children – with around 80 schools in the area affected, according to officials.

Rescuers are still battling dozens of aftershocks as the search for earthquake survivors continues.

At least 268 people have died so far, including many children, with around 151 still missing and more than 1,000 injured.

In an official communique from the Palace, Prince Albert sent his support to the people of the Cianjur region, while touching on the issue of climate change:

“It is with great emotion and sadness that I learned the tragedy your country is facing after the powerful earthquake in the Cianjur region on the island of Java. This event is another testimony of the increasing intensity of natural disasters experienced by your country.

“On behalf of the people of the Principality of Monaco and my Family, I wish to convey my deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the people of Indonesia for the loss of lives and the displacement of families.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all the people affected, with the rescue teams as well as all the people helping the injured.

“Be assured, Mr. President, of our sense of profound solidarity in these difficult times.”



Valuation Days at Sotheby’s Monaco Gallery

Luxury auction house Sotheby’s Monaco is about to host its first valuation days in the new gallery on Avenue de la Costa, with experts from Paris providing estimations on jewellery, watches and handbags.

Sotheby’s opened its new gallery in Monte-Carlo this summer, bringing to the Riviera not only world-class exhibitions, but also a lively calendar of events, from virtual wine tastings to trunk shows.

On Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd December, Sotheby’s knowledgeable specialists will be in the gallery to provide confidential advice and valuations on precious jewellery, watches and Hermes handbags.

It is the first time that the new gallery is hosting the popular valuation days, and Head of the Monaco Office Louise Grether is happy to say that they will become a permanent, monthly fixture here at the gallery.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for people to come in with their watches, jewels, and Hermes bags, and discover the current market value of these pieces,” Louise Grether explained to Monaco Life. “It is a free and confidential valuation, and 80-90% of clients are able to receive an immediate estimation.”

People then have the opportunity to consign their item with Sotheby’s immediately for the next sale, or simply use the valuation for insurance purposes or to satisfy curiosity on how much a piece is actually worth.

According to the latest report by IMARC Group, titled ‘Jewellery Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2022-2027’, the global jewellery market is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 6.1% during 2022-2027.

Valuations are by appointment only on , +377 93 30 88 80


Photo above, left: The extremely rare Kelly handbag made from the house’s highly exclusive Himalaya leather, hand-painted crocodile with 18-karat white-gold hardware, a lock and clasp set with 258 diamonds, currently on private sale. Right: Chaumet diamond ring, weighing 4.94 carats,  1970s. Currently on private sale



Louise Grether: “Monaco is officially an art destination”