The boss’s speech eclipsed the AGM. Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez addressed flaming words to the members. But it was only marginally about his club. Instead, Pérez chose the meta level, settled with modern football. “Our sport is sick. It’s losing its leadership role as a global sport,” said the 75-year-old.
According to Pérez, football is losing its supremacy, especially compared to US sports, referring to the Forbes ranking of the most valuable sports clubs, in which the royal team is only 13th. “We were at the top of all sports,” the Real boss looked back: “We were overtaken by twelve clubs from American sports. Something they must be doing very well in the United States and very badly in Europe. Football is losing the global entertainment competition,” he warned.
Football is becoming increasingly unattractive, especially for young people, said the billionaire entrepreneur: “Younger people are demanding a quality product that the current European competitions do not offer. We need to change the competitions to offer the best games throughout the season.”
It was a clear appeal to an idea that had actually failed – the creation of a Super League. Pérez was a leading figure in calls for Europe’s elite clubs to secede from European Football Union (Uefa) competitions in April 2021 and was the chairman of the Super League, briefly formed last year.
At that time, twelve top clubs initially announced the formation of a Super League, but quickly rejected the plan after massive protests from leagues, associations and fans. In addition to Juventus Turin, Real and FC Barcelona, who are still committed to the project to this day, the two Milan clubs AC and Inter, Atlético Madrid and Arsenal FC, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Manchester City were among them.
The decision on a possible Super League is currently up to the courts. “A decision is expected to come that will shape European football. When the verdict is announced, we will all work together to change the situation in football,” Pérez said, calling for freedom for clubs.
To reinforce his argument for a premium product in which the best teams in Europe would meet at even more regular intervals than in the Champions League, Pérez looked to tennis. “Nadal and Federer have played each other 40 times in 15 years. Nadal and Djokovic have played 59 games in 16 years,” he explained. However, Real would only have played nine times in 67 years against Liverpool, and only four against Chelsea in European Cup history. A Super League would produce these top duels in a row. “What’s the point of depriving the fans of all these games?” Pérez asked.
The current Uefa competitions do not come off well as a comparison product with the Madrid president. “Uefa ramps up the competition with games between irrelevant teams. It will only accelerate the decline of European football,” Pérez said. His royal team’s game on Wednesday (9 p.m., in the WELT sports ticker) against the Ukrainian representative Shakhtar Donetsk is unlikely to arouse much enthusiasm.
Real goes into the game with anger at losing the lead in the table to arch-rivals FC Barcelona. The royals did not get more than a 1-1 (1-0) against CA Osasuna on Sunday and thus dropped the first points after six wins. Barça, who won 1-0 at RCD Mallorca on Saturday through a goal from Robert Lewandowski, share 19 points with Real but have the better goal difference.