Qaddafi wanted to buy Malmö FF: report

Former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi wanted to pump some of the country's oil billions into Swedish football team Malmö FF, according to details in a new book.

Qaddafi wanted to buy Malmö FF: report
Photo: Scanpix (file)

Oil billionaires are now a common feature of European football, with Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan at Manchester City perhaps the most high profile. But back in Malmö FF’s glory days of the late seventies, the sport was a far more modest investment prospect.

But according to a book by Swedish journalist Lars C Tisell, Qaddafi, who died in October at the hands of rebel fighters, was close to buying the Allsvenskan club, according to a report in the Expressen daily on Monday.

Malmö FF experienced their finest hour back in the 1978/79 season when they touched the pinnacle of European football after reaching the European Cup final.

While the lowly Swedish part-timers ultimately fell at the final hurdle to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, the cup run that year had caught the interest of the football world and according to Tisell, their success had not escaped the attention of Tripoli.

“He fell in love with the way they played the game,” Lars C Tisell told Expressen.

The revelations came to Tisell’s attention when the long-time Africa correspondent was invited for tea with the Libyan dictator after their paths crossed in the city of Sirte in 1979.

Tisell claims that Qaddafi told him of a match between Malmö FF and Monaco and asked of his opinion of the Skåne team, inquiring as to how much the club could be acquired for.

Tisell claims that discussions continued with a number of Qadaffi’s aides but that the plans never came to fruition.

He explained his silence through the years in the sensitivity of a journalist having had continued close contact with the ruthless dictator, which ultimately came to an end towards the end of the 1990s.

“I wanted to lie low with that and didn’t want to talk about it much either. I thought that it was sensitive and almost a little embarrassing, to be almost like a little messenger for a dictator,” Tisell told the newspaper.

The 64-year-old Tisell’s book will include details of meetings with a slew of foreign dignitaries and celebrities including George Foreman, Brigitte Bardot and Muhammad Ali.

Expressen reported that Malmö FF’s chairperson at the time, Hans Cavalli Björkman, has clarified that the club had no contact whatsoever with Muammar Qaddafi or the Libyan regime.

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Malmö fans vow to ‘blow Scots off the pitch’

Malmö are looking ahead to their chance to gain revenge against Celtic in their second clash with the Glaswegians in the Champions League play-off on Tuesday.

Malmö fans vow to 'blow Scots off the pitch'
Malmö FF lost by 3-2 to Celtic in the Champions League play-off on Wednesday. Photo: AP Photo/Scott Heppell

The Swedish champions lost 3-2 in the first leg of their play-off round match against Celtic last week after dealing a blow to the Scottish side with an incredible late comeback.

But the pressure from the almost 50,000 Celtic fans loudly cheering their home team from the stands at Parkhead proved to be too much for Malmö who did not make it all the way.

On Monday, the southern Swedish team was warming up for the second leg of the play-off round, this time facing Celtic on home turf. And its fans promised to exert their revenge.

“Forget everything we've done so far. We now set the bar for what can be achieved at a football stadium and together we create an atmosphere that will blow the Scots off the pitch,” read a message on Malmö FF's website from the club's supporters.

“We are the storm. And when the storm blows in we have to give everything,” it added.

Their words echo those of Malmö's coach Åge Hareide after the defeat in Glasgow.

“We will attack them at home and play our normal game and hopefully it will be enough. (…) Our fans have the habit of backing us fantastically at home. We will attack and we are up for it,” the Norwegian told a press conference on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Malmö keep Champions League hopes alive

Malmö, who are looking to make the group stages for the second successive season after becoming the first Swedish club in the tournament for more than a decade last year, will not be phased by the challenge of overturning the deficit.

They came back from a 2-0 first-leg defeat to advance 3-2 against Red Bull Salzburg in the previous qualifying round.

But Celtic's coach Ronny Deila promised not to give the Swedish team an easy ride, saying that his side has learned its lessons from the previous match.

“We are very irritated with the last thing that happened in the game,” he told reporters on Monday, referring to Malmö's second away goal by Jo Inge Berget at Celtic Park last week. “But we have to move on and know that we are ahead and we are going to do this in Malmö.”

“We are one goal ahead and they have to beat us in Malmö. It was an okay result, but it could have been a better result.”

Celtic suffered heartache at this stage last season when they were eliminated 2-1 on aggregate by Slovenian side NK Maribor.

But the 1967 winners – the first British club to win the European Cup – believe they have a better chance of progress this time.

“Of course we can beat Malmö away. But they have to beat us, and that is a positive thing. They have to attack us and that can suit us,” added Deila.