Real Madrid's Florentino Perez Defends Super League Proposal amid Backlash

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2021

Real Madrid's President Florentino Perez gives a speech during the official presentation of Belgium forward Eden Hazard at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Real Madrid announced last week that it had acquired the 28-year-old Belgian playmaker from Chelsea for a reported fee of around 100 million euros ($113 million) plus variables, making him the club's most expensive signing ever. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Real Madrid president and Super League chairman Florentino Perez defended the formation of the league during an appearance on Spanish television program El Chiringuito Monday amid growing condemnation around the soccer world.

"Many important clubs in Spain, Italy and UK want to find a solution to a very bad financial situation. The only way is to play more competitive games," he said (h/t soccer reporter Fabrizio Romano). "If instead of playing the [Champions League], Super League helps the clubs to recover the lost earnings."

Perez said clubs are in financial ruin, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Super League will "save football":

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Florentino Perez to El Chiringuito: "Here at Real Madrid we've lost a lot of money, we are all going through a very bad situation. When there is no profit, the only way is to play more competitive games during the week. The #SuperLeague will save the clubs financially". 🚨

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Florentino Perez: "Football must evolve like everything in life. Football has to adapt to the times we live in now. Football is losing interest, TV rights are decreasing. We wanted to do the #SuperLeague, the pandemic has given us urgency: now we are all ruined in football". 🚨

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Florentino Perez to Chiringuito: "The attractive thing in football is playing between big clubs, the value for television increases and more income is generated. It's not just the rich who want the #SuperLeague, we're doing it to save football because it's at a critical moment".

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Florentino Perez to Chiringuito: "It will become like a pyramid because we big clubs will have more money and we will be able to invest it by buying players... if the big clubs lose their money as is happening, the whole football system crashes as with the Champions League". 🚨

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Florentino Perez: "UEFA is a monopoly but it needs to be more transparent. We want to save football for the next 20 years, it is in a time of serious danger. If you win, you receive €120 to € 130m from UEFA but with #SuperLeague we will earn much more". 🚨

Perez also refuted the idea that Super League founders currently in the Champions League (Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City) and Europa League (Arsenal, Manchester United) semifinals would not be allowed to finish out those campaigns.

"Impossibile, I can assure that," he said. "One hundred percent."

"Real Madrid and other SuperLeague clubs will NOT be excluded from this 2020-21 Champions League," he added. "It won't happen, the law protects us. This is impossible."

That came in response to comments from Jesper Moller, who sits on UEFA's executive committee and is also the chairman of the Danish Football Union, earlier on Monday.

"[Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea] are going out, and I expect that to happen on Friday," he told DR Sport on Monday (h/t Mike Goodman of CBS Sports). "And then you have to see how to finish the Champions League."

Perez also pushed back on threats from UEFA president Alex Ceferin that players on Super League clubs would be banned from participating in international events like the Euros or World Cup. 

"Players banned from international competitions and national teams according to UEFA? Don't worry, this will not happen," he said. "They won't be banned if they join the Super League."

The Super League officially formed over the weekend with 12 clubs—AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham—serving as founding members and three more clubs set to join as founders. 

Perez said Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich were not invited to join the league and that the Super League won't be canceled without them.

"This is a bulls--t," Perez said.

Those 15 clubs would be guaranteed a place every year in the midweek tournament, with another five clubs allowed to join them on a year-by-year basis. In essence, the Super League is set up to replace the Champions League for several of the biggest clubs in the world, which are hoping to avoid the financial uncertainties that accompany the possibility of not qualifying for a berth in the Champions League. 

That clubs are attempting to bypass the merit-based system of UCL qualification is one huge concern for fans and pundits alike. Another is the fear that the giant potential payday of the Super League—JP Morgan is set to be a financial backer, with founding clubs receiving a €3.5 billion windfall simply for joining the competition—will further widen the gap between the financial haves and have-nots of the sport. 

And there is also the concern that the midweek tournament will simply be a trial run for Super League clubs to ultimately separate entirely from their domestic leagues, though Perez pushed back on that notion.

"[United Kingdom Prime Minister] Boris Johnson said he will do everything to cancel the Super League because they explained to him that the Premier League would disappear," Perez noted. "It's false, it's not true. Everything will go back to normal."

That last point remains extraordinarily debatable within the soccer world. The ramifications of the Super League's formation could potentially change the landscape of European soccer forever.