From Leclerc to the World Cup, Prince Albert talks sport ahead of National Day

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From Charles Leclerc to the renovation of the Stade Louis II, and even the Qatar World Cup, Prince Albert II has reflected on a wide range of pertinent sporting topics ahead of National Day. 

Speaking to Monaco Matin, the Prince of Monaco divulged his thoughts on sporting issues both inside and outside of the Principality’s borders.

“Even for Liberty Media, it was unthinkable not to have Monaco on the calendar”

Following months of tough negotiations, the Monaco Grand Prix was finally renewed for three years. However, as Prince Albert revealed, the contours of the accord are yet to be fully established, with talks ongoing.

“I have the certainty and the assurance that the owners of F1 won’t pressure us. They know very well the situation of the Monaco Grand Prix and that they can’t apply to the letter all of the expectations that are applied to other circuits. I don’t think there will be an issue. Even for Liberty Media, it was unthinkable not to have Monaco on the calendar,” he said.

“We had to talk about certain things. It is a big change, but we kept some of our prerogatives. The dialogue is continuing and we will see the details, but they won’t bother us with specificities. They will take control of the communication, the TV production, the brand, but not of all the sponsors for now,” he continued.

“Charles Leclerc has had a beautiful season”

Staying on the topic of Formula 1, Prince Albert II reflected on Leclerc’s season with Ferrari. After starting the season strongly, a mixture of poor tactical decisions from the team and a lack of car development relative to the Red Bull saw his title charge wither in the midseason. However, the Prince of Monaco believes that the Monégasque driver should be proud of his efforts.

“Leclerc has had a beautiful season, that could have been even more beautiful. He is a boy that is very objective with himself and expects a lot and that’s good. He has nothing to be ashamed of. He should finish the season vice-champion and that in itself is formidable.”

Leclerc must better Sergio Perez’s result at Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in order to secure second place in the championship, behind world champion Max Verstappen.

“I hear the fans’ frustration.”

Remaining within the Principality, Prince Albert II addressed AS Monaco fans’ discontent at the state of the Stade Louis II. Protests have been held, decrying the current state of the iconic stadium, and last month the government confirmed further work would take place. AS Monaco themselves have also confirmed a desire to see the stadium updated.

“I hear the fans’ frustration. The Stade Louis II isn’t only a football stadium, but also a sporting complex, completed in 1985, and which doesn’t necessarily satisfy its current requirements. That doesn’t mean that we can’t welcome sport in good conditions, but I even note myself that certain parts of the stadium have aged poorly. The building is undergoing a gradual renovation. Undoubtedly, we will have to increase this renovation programme. We’re in the process of updating it, whilst avoiding a complete closure,” said Prince Albert.

He continued, “I think we have to speed up improving little things before thinking about changing everything.”

“We now have a great hall in line with the club’s ambitions.”

The Stade Louis II houses within it the Salle Gaston Médecin, home to AS Monaco Basketball, which has been recently renovated to allow it to comply with Euroleague standards. Last year was the Roca Team’s debut year in the highest level of European competition. Having made their playoffs, Sasa Obradovic’s team have made a strong start to this year’s campaign.

“Everything happened very quickly. A renovated hall was a requirement of the Euroleague, which forced us to find innovative and interesting solutions to increase the number of seats. The bet paid off, even if we couldn’t reach the 5,000 figure. What the managers of the Euroleague wanted us to do was an effort to go the maximum of our possibilities. We now have a great hall in line with the club’s ambitions,” he said.

Prince Albert II won’t boycott the Qatar World Cup

Since the controversial awarding of the World Cup to Qatar, many have called for the competition to be boycotted on ethical grounds. The country’s human rights record, its non-tolerance of homosexuality and the environmental impact of the competition have all been called into question. Whilst Prince Albert II shares those concerns, he said that he won’t be boycotting the competition.

“We should have listened to those who raised their voices and called for boycotts a few years ago when Qatar was chosen. Now that the choice has been made, and without going over once more how it was chosen, it’s a bit late. On the environmental question, the energy needed to build and air-condition the stadiums is considerable. That doesn’t mean that you have to boycott it, I’m sure it will be a great tournament,” he said.

“These Olympics promise to be spectacular”

Staying on the topic of the environment, a key policy point of the Principality’s government, Prince Albert II praised the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games for their prioritisation of sustainable development.

“These Olympics promise to be spectacular and to be the first to have a real plan for sustainable development. It will be a window for all of these problems. There will need to be a lot of innovation to have the opening ceremony on the River Seine,” he said.

“As for our athletes, they are preparing. 2023 will already be filled with competitions for them. They will then have to qualify for the Olympics in their various disciplines. We’re beginning to determine the details of a delegation. There could be a few surprises from now until then,” he concluded.


Photo by Monaco Life