Algerian international Youcef Atal’s potential return to the French Ligue 1, after five months in Turkey, has sparked political reactions in France, with the Crif working to block the Algerian international’s path.

It all started with rumors of discussions between the Algerian full-back and Olympique de Marseille. Immediately, mobilization against Youcef Atal began. At the heart of the maneuver was the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (Crif).

The local press reported that Marseille’s leaders were close to approving Youcef Atal’s recruitment, but the backlash caused by the potential return to France of the former OGC Nice full-back forced them to back down, giving in to Crif’s pressure.

According to La Marseillaise, OM has « definitively abandoned » the Atal track following the controversy surrounding his possible arrival at the only French club to have won the Champions League. In addition to the Crif, Marseille’s socialist mayor, Benoît Payan, has expressed his opposition to the international’s arrival at Olympique de Marseille.

The affair has taken on political dimensions in France, with Renaud Muselier, President of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, weighing in. He stated that OM’s leaders have a « great ambition for the club and will not make this type of mistake. They have recruited an excellent coach and will have a successful transfer window, I am sure of it! »

In response to the controversy, Youcef Atal posted a video on his Instagram account on Saturday, July 6, showing him training for the upcoming season. As for his next destination, if there is one, he did not disclose anything.

On January 3, Youcef Atal was sentenced by the Nice court to 8 months of suspended prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for « incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion. » This trial was brought against him by four Jewish organizations, including the Crif, after he shared a controversial video of a Palestinian preacher imploring God to send a dark day upon the Jews, a week after the start of the war in Gaza.

Youcef Atal, 28, apologized, removed the video, and assured the court that he had not watched the entire video. He claimed he wanted to share a « message of peace » so that people « do not suffer, » while the war in Gaza raged on.

Having become undesirable in France after his conviction, he left OGC Nice for Adana Demirspor in Turkey, where he spent five months before finding himself without a club and attracting interest from Marseille.

Trained at Paradou AC, Youcef Atal played for OGC Nice from 2018 to 2024.