French sports media executives mourn death of Canal Plus' Lelong
By Jonathan Rest
Pierre Lelong, the long-serving sports rights acquisitions director at Canal Plus, has died at the age of just 47, the French pay-television broadcaster has announced.
Lelong joined Canal Plus in 2006 as deputy director of sports and was promoted to director of sports acquisitions two years later, working across the group's geographies.
In a statement, Maxime Saada, chairman of Canal Plus, paid tribute to “one of the world's foremost experts in his field,” who “played a central role in all the success of the acquisition of sports rights these last 15 years.”
He continued: “Those who had the chance to work with Pierre knew his deep kindness, his unfailing attachment to our group and his great professionalism. All my thoughts are with his wife, children and family. I would like to tell them, on behalf of the Canal + Group, how much we will miss Pierre.”
Alexandre Bompard, who was director of sports at Canal Plus between 2005 and 2008, and is now president of supermarket chain Carrefour, wrote on Twitter: "Great sadness at the announcement of the death of Pierre Lelong, remarkable companion of route of my Canal years. Heartfelt thoughts for his family and all the friends of the Canal + sports department ” .
Laurent-Eric Le Lay, director of sport at France Télévisions, the country’s public-service broadcaster, and the former chairman and chief executive of Discovery-owned Eurosport, wrote on Twitter: "Pierre was a great pro who will be greatly missed. Thoughts to his wife and children."
Laurent Prud’homme, senior vice-president and general manager of Discovery's in France, added: "He was indeed one of the greatest experts in sports rights in the world, a formidable competitor for whom I had a deep respect, a friend. My thoughts are with his wife and children."
Former long-term Eurosport executive Arnaud Simon, who now runs In&OutStories, the Paris-based media rights consultancy, said: "Shocked by this very sad news. A great pro."
Pierre Maes, the respected sports media consultant, wrote: "Pierre Lelong was unanimous in France and internationally by his competence and benevolence. Accumulation of qualities rare in our business. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones."