Real Madrid president Florentino Perez: “Football is sick”
Florentino Perez has continued to ask for reform in European football after Real Madrid took a fall in a recent valuation table.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez appeared to again promote the idea of a European Super League as he warned the current state of football shows it is “sick”.
Perez has been a leading figure in calls for Europe’s elite football clubs to secede from UEFA competitions in recent years, and he was chairman of the proposed Super League in 2021.
The breakaway competition collapsed on the back of shaky alliances between clubs as well as political and public pressure, with each of the five aligned Premier League clubs withdrawing in the days following the announcement.
One of Perez’s primary arguments for the concept was to allow Europe’s elite to play one another more often, though Madrid did face Inter, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool on their way to winning the Champions League last season.
“To fix a problem, you have to first recognise that you have a problem,” Perez said at the club’s AGM on Sunday. “Our sport is sick. It is losing its leadership as a global sport.
“We mustn’t be confused by the impact of Real Madrid’s European Cup run when we were involved in seven games of the highest intensity and interest.
“That was the result of the draw, and of the quality and greatness of our team. It was a spectacle that helped bring excitement back to the viewers.
“That’s why we believe European competitions must change, to offer fans top-level games year-round between the strongest teams, with the best players competing.”
The 75-year-old also cited tennis, where the recently retired Roger Federer has regularly faced fellow elite players Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“In tennis, Nadal and Federer have played 40 times in 15 years. Nadal and Djokovic have played 59 matches in 16 years,” Perez added, quoted by ESPN.
“In football, we’ve only played Liverpool nine times in 67 years. We’ve played Chelsea four times in the history of the European Cup. What sense does it make to deprive fans of all these games?”
Perez also spoke of a recent ranking from Forbes of the world’s 50 most valuable sports teams, which had Madrid down in 13th, below several US sports teams.
Falling behind US sports
“We were top in all sports, and now we’ve fallen to 13th,” he said. “We’ve been overtaken by 12 clubs from American sports. They must be doing something very well in the United States and very badly in Europe.
“Football is losing the global entertainment battle against other sports and other platforms.
“We need a professional, modern, transparent management, not based on old structures designed in the last century.
“Recently the chairman of the European Clubs’ Association [Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi] said – talking about the Super League – that Real Madrid are afraid of the competition. Maybe the president of the ECA has to be reminded who Real Madrid are. Competition is in our DNA.”