How did Florentino Perez change football forever overnight and what price will he pay for the same?
Edited By Vansh Ambashta
LaligaReal Madrid European Super League
April 19, 2021, 5:09 p.m.
Yes, last night did happen. No, it was not a dream. The world of football has turned upside down with the announcement of the European Super League and the several dominoes that are falling since then. Football fans worldwide don’t know how to react, the emotions of shock, anger, disappointment and disbelief are all bunched in together as they are coming to terms with everything that has happened and is still happening. At the heart of all of this lies one man, the notorious Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who seems to be the biggest villain in sports right now.
While the announcement in itself might have seemed to come out of nowhere for most of the fans, the meticulous planning for ESL first began in 2017. Perez then said, “I think I can bring rigorous elements of business to the world of football and thus get out of a poor financial position and consolidate a stable, lasting sporting-economic project.” Ever since he first said this, Perez has continued to advocate for the ESL on several public forums.
Getting financial backing for such a lucrative sporting project was not a challenging task. American financial giants like JP Morgan were more than willing to invest in the project, what proved to be difficult was convincing other clubs to break away from the tried and tested UEFA model and join this venture. This task might have taken several more years if it was not for the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic broke the backs of all major European clubs, incurring losses north of 100 million Euros. Then came Perez with a proposal that would ensure 350 million Euros per club and an emergency fund of 3.5 billion Euros. Perez already had the structure of the league, the legal implications, media rights and all other formalities in place, it was easy for the clubs to get to a decision.
From what we have seen from Florentino Perez over the years, one thing is for sure, he is not a man who goes into the battlefield with a blunt sword. Perez knew the wrath that he was going to face from UEFA and FIFA once the announcement happens, he knew that he might very well be buried into the grave of his own making, and he decided to proceed with the plan anyway.
According to the announcements and the reports till now, Real Madrid would have to forfeit their semi-final berth in the UCL and they could be stripped of their 13 UCL titles as well. Their players may not be allowed to participate in the Euros and the World Cups should they choose to play in the Super League. All of this though might just be empty posturing from UEFA and FIFA to salvage at least some of their respect and power. If they do make good on their threats though then Perez will have some problems to deal with.
The stripping of UCL titles shouldn’t bother Real Madrid too much because no matter what the UEFA records say, the world knows that Real Madrid has been the most successful club in the competition’s history and will be treated as such. While the ban on players in FIFA tournaments seems ridiculous and undoable, if FIFA manages to somehow act on it, the Real Madrid players will have a choice to make. Play for a lesser club for less money but represent their country or agree to not play for their country while wearing the Real Madrid colours at wages which are sure to increase with the introduction of the Super League. While I do believe that most of the players will choose the latter, this is sure to create many contractual problems as well as discontent among players.
With his role in its formation and the power that he holds in the European Super League, Perez has guaranteed Real Madrid’s place at the top of the footballing food chain. Real Madrid, who were struggling financially because of the pandemic and the costs of their new exotic stadium would get a huge financial boost from the influx of money that the Super League will provide.
The Super League will also give Real Madrid the opportunity to attract more non-European fans who usually flock to Premier League clubs because of the high amount of exposure that PL has and the incompetence of La Liga in several of the decisions that they make. La Liga not being as marketable as the Premier League has hampered Real even more so in recent times, which will come to an end with the emergence of the Super League.
The announcement of the Super League is getting flake from all over the world. Some because fans are genuinely enraged and think that this is going to kill the very essence of football and some because they don’t know any better on how to react to such a significant revolution. When Champions League was restructured in 1992 to improve the competition and the quality of the product, similar disagreements came forth. Still, the eventual result was the best football that the world had seen. Will that be true this time around only time will tell, but it sure is something to see history being made right in front of our eyes.
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