By DAN KARELL
The inspirational story of Luzenac AP has slowly become one of tragedy, one that even Shakespeare would be proud of.
What began with earning promotion into the French Football League (LFP) last May has ultimately finished with the club’s expulsion from the ranks of professional soccer in France, forcing the team to begin life again in the French seventh division. After a meeting in Paris with French Football Federation Noel Le Graet, Luzenac president Jerome Ducros, and general manager Fabian Barthez both refused to be placed in the bottom tier of French professional soccer (CFA-2), and agreed to leave the club, along with releasing every first-team player.
Included in Luzenac’s first team is former U.S. youth international goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, who started 33 games in last season’s memorable campaign.
The trouble for Luzenac, which is based in a town of around 650 residents, began after finishing second in the Championnat de France National, or French third division. Operating on a shoestring budget, they became the smallest club to ever earn promotion to Ligue 2.
Unfortunately for the club, their problems were only beginning.
Due to playing in a small stadium, the Stade de Foix, with a capacity of just 3,00 people, both the LFP and FFF said that Luzenac couldn’t play in Ligue 2. Late last May, Luzenac had come to a deal with nearby Toulouse to play their home games in Toulouse’s stadium, but the league said they had to approve it.
Despite approving Toulouse to play in their home stadium, the LFP denied Luzenac to play there and also again denied entry into Ligue 2 due to financial problems.
In July, Luzenac filed a number of appeals through the court system to try and gain acceptance into the league, but in early August, Ligue 2 began without Luzenac participating. Luzenac were reportedly willing to settle for sticking back in National, but the FFP decided that they couldn’t remain in that disivion, and claimed they had to start at the bottom of the professional ladder.
As such, Barthez and Ducros decided that enough was enough, and that they will release all first-team players and have the reserve team players promoted to re-start the club in the French seventh division.
Prior to joining Luzenac, Westberg was a member of Evian TG and Troyes AC. He’s a graduate of France’s prestigious Clairfontaine academy, and he’s played for the U.S. U-17s, U-20s, and U-23s in his career.
What do you think of these developments? Sad to see the fate of Luzenac? Where do you see Westberg heading next?