The LFP, French soccer’s governing body, has appointed Ben Morel, the chief executive of Six Nations Rugby, as the chief executive of its new commercial body.

Six Nations Rugby, the organizer of the prestigious annual international rugby union tournament, announced in November that Morel would step down from his role after five years at the helm to “tackle other personal and professional projects.”

At the time, it said he would end his tenure after the 2022-23 season to ensure a smooth transition with his successor, and the board said the process to find a new chief executive was underway, with an announcement expected early this year.

The LFP said Morel will take on the new role in the spring, taking responsibility for the operations of the entity, which will be chaired by LFP president Vincent Labrune.

Morel said: “I would like to thank Vincent Labrune and the supervisory board for their trust. They can count on my determination to lead this new exciting growth phase for French football.

“I will work in close collaboration with all of the club and all other LFP stakeholders to offer an innovative and high-quality sporting spectacle, putting our global fans at the heart of this new approach.”

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The appointment comes after LFP secured investment from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners last March for the creation of its new commercial entity, with the goal of “repositioning” French soccer as a global leader in the sport.

Under its agreement, CVC is paying €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) for a 13% share in the new commercial subsidiary, which is valued at €11.5 billion.

The new body will look to develop the league’s brand into a more entertainment-focused business model and support the clubs in promoting their unique identity.

 The LFP and French clubs approved the formation of the commercial body in July.

Labrune said: “The creation of our commercial entity opens a new chapter for French football. I am very pleased that Ben Morel has joined us. His appointment as CEO of the commercial entity will perfectly serve our strong ambition to develop French football, a mission that we have been supporting for the past 18 months, with the objective of bringing French football clubs up to the level of our national team.

“With 25 years of experience working for Six Nations Rugby and the NBA, his vast experience will serve as a great benefit to lead the transformation we have initiated with our partner CVC.

“The recent performance of the French national team, runner-up at the 2022 World Cup, confirms this vision and compels us to do everything we can to make our professional football league a reference on the European stage.”

Morel has previous experience in working with CVC, securing investment from the firm during his tenure at Six Nations through a landmark strategic partnership unveiled in March 2021.

Under that deal, the fund is investing up to £365 million ($509 million) in the Six Nations over five years in return for a stake of just over 14% in the commercial rights over a more long-term period.

While leading the rugby union organization, Morel also led the effort to centralize media rights to the men’s Six Nations, revamped women’s tournament, and under-20 Six Nations, the Autumn Internationals, and other international matches.

Elsewhere, he participated in negotiations with streaming giant Amazon Prime Video for rights across the UK and Ireland to broadcast the new Autumn Nations Series, the end-of-year set of test matches first played in 2021 after the Autumn Nations Cup in 2020 and the Autumn Internationals before that.

Morel joined Six Nations in August 2018 from North American basketball’s NBA, where he worked for 20 years. His final role at the organization was as managing director and senior vice president of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

At the point of leaving the NBA, he was credited with driving growth in the popularity of the league in the EMEA region, a key market, given the large following for basketball there, and helping establish partnerships with Perform, the international digital sports content, and media group, and broadcasters such as BeIN Sports in France and the Middle East and Movistar in Spain.

It resulted in NBA games and programming being shown in 36 languages in 61 countries in the region, with Morel a key driver of the NBA Sundays initiative, in which live games are shown in prime-time on Sunday evenings, a scheme that has now expanded to include prime-time games on Saturdays.

Morel’s tenure at the NBA also coincided with the playing of sold-out regular-season games at the O2 in London.