Ex-Marseille President dies after contracting coronavirus

Paris, April 1 (IANS) Former Marseille President Pape Diouf has died after contracting coronavirus, the club has announced. Diouf was 68 and was president between 2005 and 2009 when Marseille finished second in Ligue 1 twice and reached two French Cup finals, as per a BBC report.

“Pape will remain in the hearts of the Marseillais forever, as one of the great architects in the club’s history,” Marseille posted on Twitter.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) said: “Journalist, agent, president of Olympique de Marseille, Pape Diouf dedicated his whole life in service of football.

“A member of the LFP administrative council from September 2007 to June 2009, Pape Diouf will be remembered as a charismatic and passionate director.”

Former France and Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse paid his homage. He played for Marseille when Diouf was at th helm of affairs.

“Today French football has lost a great man,” he posted on social media. “My sadness is great today. Rest in peace.”

Manchester City’s French defender Benjamin Mendy described his “sadness” at hearing the news.

“A great president but above all a huge man, who always worthily represented Marseille and its values. A great loss for French football and the African continent. Rest in peace,” he tweeted.

The coronavirus cases in France have reached 52,128, with a death toll of 3,523, General Director of Health Jerome Salomon announced at a daily briefing.

In the last 24 hours, 7,578 more people were diagnosed with the COVID-19, which claimed 499 more deaths, the biggest fatalities caused by the virus in one day, Xinhua news agency reported.

Some 5,565 out of the 22,757 patients hospitalised were in critical condition and needed life support, up by 458 from Monday. Meanwhile, 9,444 patients recovered and returned home.