Football & Management

Arsenal Star Mesut Ozil Building a Career in Finance after Joining VC Fund

Mesut Ozil has taken up the position of strategic adviser at American venture capital firm Class 5 Global, a move that sees the Arsenal FC midfielder consolidate his position in the world of startup investing.

The German international was already an investor with the United States-based fund, having been introduced to the company’s managing partner Youcef Oudjidane by former Arsenal player Kieran Gibbs earlier in his career.

He is one of the several premier athletes in the world that have turned to private companies to grow their wealth while some have taken up investing as a full-time profession and second career after sports.

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The growing list of sportsman-turned-investor includes the likes of tennis star Serena Williams, NBA stars Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, and former footballers Mathieu Flamini and David Beckham. The latter’s company – Guild Esports -recently became the first major e-sports company to go public on the London Stock Exchange.

Ozil’s latest move offers a hint at his future plans after a football career. “I am excited to shape and work on my post-football career while I am still actively playing football,” he said in a statement, as reported by Bloomberg on Monday.

The 32-year-old midfielder, who is one of Arsenal’s biggest earners raking in as much as £350,000 in weekly wages, is looking to forge a career in finance as his successful but largely controversial time in football nears its end.

Ozil played a pivotal role in Germany’s 2014 World Cup win but retired from international competition four years later, alleging discrimination and disrespect by the German Football Association (DFB) and the German media due to his Turkish roots. That controversy intensified when the midfielder invited the President of Turkey and a strong critic of the European Union, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to be the best man at his wedding.

He moved to Arsenal in 2013 after a three-year spell at Spanish giants Real Madrid and has helped the English club win a number of domestic trophies. But after a bright start, Ozil has since falling down the pecking order and seen his game time at the club reduced drastically, with the 2019/20 campaign being his worst statistical season.

Ozil last played for the Arsenal team in March this year and has been exiled at the north London club by current manager Mikel Arteta. He was left out of the Gunners’ 25-man Premier League and Europa League squads this season, meaning he is not eligible to play for the club until January at least.

With his career at Arsenal most likely over as his contract expires at the end of the current season, he is joining David Beckham and Serena Williams in Class 5 Global’s start-up investment network. Oudjidane has been advising other English Premier League players as well and in a statement notes that world-class athletes bring “a unique perspective on the future of consumer preferences.”

There are however economic benefits for both parties – athletes and venture capital funds. For the investor, tech companies and stocks have been generating exciting returns over the years despite a slowdown in global economic growth and have thus become a must-have in investment portfolios.

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A look at the performance of the NASDAQ (the index tracking America’s biggest tech companies) and the Standard & Poor 500 (index tracking the biggest U.S. companies) over the last decade shows the former has been returning about 107 percent more (181 percent vs. 289 percent).

Meanwhile, the social media presence and following as well as endorsements of a star athlete help with marketing and can lower the cost of customer acquisition for portfolio companies. But there are often separate deals for doing events and promotions.

Class 5 Global has a mission to “build the best capital partner for emerging market startups,” a statement on its website reads. It attempts to attract American venture capital funding to online startups in those markets and has more than $100 million in assets under management (AUM).

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