Florentino Pérez, President of Real Madrid and the new Super League: "We want to be masters of our own destiny"
Angel Martinez / Real Madrid / Getty Images
He's not the youngest either, says Florentino Pérez, 74. But at least he tries to think about the future. And in that, said the President of Real Madrid on Tuesday night, the global club association WFCA and - especially crucial these days - the new European Super League, things would have to change. So that they can stay as they are.
In view of the worldwide turmoil over the secession project of twelve European top clubs, the galactic club boss had come to a TV studio for the first time in eight years. After the brute threats from the Uefa and the lament in large parts of the scene, counter-propaganda and awareness-raising campaigns were on the program. At the late-night football table "Chiringuito", Pérez declared the introduction of the Super League to be nothing less than a question of life and death.
Football is "in free fall", "on the verge of ruin," said Pérez, who repeatedly cited the at least five billion euros in losses that European clubs, according to the European club association ECA, have so far suffered in a pandemic that is still to end cannot be foreseen.
When he hears about the latest Champions League reform by Uefa from 2024, the problem is not just that nobody understands it.
But above all that "we will have died by 2024".
And big and small: "All".
(Read more about the Champions League reform here)
»Life changes, times change, mentalities change.
We need answers for the new generations. "
Florentino Pérez, President of the Super League
Pérez's word carries weight in Spain, not just Real Madrid.
As one of the country's leading entrepreneurs, it is difficult to deny the president, who was recently confirmed for a sixth term, his business knowledge.
If he chooses such dramatic tones, then on the one hand it has a tactical and, in view of the Covid crisis, of course, economic background.
But Pérez also revealed the strategic motives behind the big club rebellion.
"Life changes, times change, mentalities change," he explained: "We need answers for the new generations."
Only twelve percent of 16 to 24 year olds are football fans
In fact, even tough traditionalists have to admit that "old football" does not appeal to large sections of the youth. According to an ECA study from last year, 13 percent of 16 to 24 year olds admit that they “hate” football. Another 27 percent say they are "not interested". Only twelve percent declare themselves to be fans.
Football is not alone with the looming loss of importance. The fact that »Generation Z« are not as enthusiastic about sports - in particular: not as enthusiastic about sports consumption - as their predecessors has been something the scene has been ensuring for a number of years. According to data from "Morning Consult", only half as many young people in the USA still watch sport as in the previous generation "Millennials". The »Generation Z« - those roughly born between 1996 and 2012 - are more media-savvy than anyone before them. But their usage behavior is different. Last but not least, Tiktok, Youtube or Playstation have reduced the attention spans, it probably needs permanent action, otherwise no one is looking.
Olympia tries to appeal to young people with skateboarding or climbing. According to Pérez and his colleagues, football needs a more attractive competition in order to survive on the entertainment market against Netflix, e-sports or - outside of Europe - American leagues like the NBA. One that not only seduces from April like the Champions League ("To be honest, there are games that even I can't stand them," said Pérez), but all year round. With the Superliga, Pérez believes he has found him. "Five big games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays - that is unbeatable."
Then why is everyone so upset?
During his roughly two-hour studio visit, Pérez tried to dispel concerns.
By wanting to "save football", one guarantees solidarity: the higher income also increases the corresponding redistribution.
The national leagues will not be shaken, "they are the basis of everything," said Pérez.
And no, you are not a closed club.
Five places in the 20-player league are open, you just need a good qualification system, a kind of second division.
For example, why not, the Champions League.
Narrow majority in the Super League in Spain
The previous premier class as a substructure: It would be the triumph over Uefa, which is unpopular with the big clubs, from which they want to emancipate themselves to the same extent as the national leagues have done from their football associations in recent decades or the basketball euro league from the international basketball federation.
"We want to be masters of our own fate," said Pérez, who smiled unimpressed at UEFA's threats, such as the immediate exclusion of Real Madrid from the current Champions League semi-finals.
It is not the time to talk about legal issues, but be prepared, and if not this summer, then start the year after.
"Uefa confuses its monopoly with property." The officials are not concerned with football, but with their privileges.
"This is ending now."
In Spain, Pérez has already caused a small change of opinion with his plea. In the online surveys of the major sports newspapers, narrow majorities per super league were expressed for the first time on Tuesday. Elsewhere, however, especially in England, the criticism only seems to get more violent, various media even speculate about a withdrawal of some Super League clubs. According to Pérez, however, such a thing would not be possible, the rebels would have agreed in their agreement: "The signature is binding."