Marseille appoints Andoni Zubizarreta as sporting director

MARSEILLE, France (AP) " Marseille appointed Andoni Zubizarreta as sporting director on Thursday, the second major change since American owner Frank McCourt bought the club last week.

Zubizarreta, a former goalkeeper, replaces Gunter Jacob, who left by mutual consent on Wednesday " just three months after being hired.

"Andoni brings an exceptional football expertize to Marseille," McCourt said in a statement. "We are building the right team to take Marseille toward success and new summits."

Last Thursday, Rudi Garcia replaced Frank Passi as coach, three days after Marseille was bought by McCourt " the former owner of baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 55-year-old Zubizarreta played more than 400 games for Barcelona, winning the European Cup in 1992 and five Spanish titles. He played 126 times for Spain.

He was Barcelona's sporting director from July 2010 until he was fired in January 2015. He held a similar position at Spanish club Athletic Bilbao from 2001-04.

"He was always our priority," Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud said.

"His arrival is Part II of our project. He has the ideal profile for this position."

Marseille is the only French club to have won the Champions League, beating AC Milan in 1993. It has won the French title nine times but not since 2010, and has fallen way behind rival Paris Saint-Germain since it was bought by Qatari investors five years ago.

"I worked with Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona, two clubs with a big personality," Zubizarreta said. "Marseille also has this passion, this relationship with its fans. It's a good opportunity for me to discover French football."

In Garcia's first game in charge, Marseille drew 0-0 at PSG last Sunday, but still sits in mid-table and trails leader Nice by 13 points after 10 matches.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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