The president of the European Super League defends the dissident football competition

Florentino Pérez, president of Real Madrid photographed on February 18, 2020 in Madrid, Spain.

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LONDON – The president of the European Super League said plans to form a new elite separatist competition are designed to “save” football, rejecting widespread criticism by stating that change is necessary because young people “are no longer interested. ” on the sport .

In an interview granted this Monday to the Spanish television program El Chiringuito de Jugones, Florentino Pérez, who is also the president of Real Madrid, said: “Whenever there is a change, there are always people who oppose … and we are doing this to save football at this critical moment. “

“Audiences are declining and rights are declining and something had to be done. We are all broke. Television has to change so that we can adapt,” he continued.

“Young people are no longer interested in football. Why not? Because there are many poor quality games and they are not interested, they have other platforms where they can distract themselves,” said Pérez.

Pérez did not provide evidence that younger soccer fans turned away from the sport due to a lack of interest or declining television viewership numbers.

His comments came shortly after it was announced that 12 of Europe’s richest soccer teams, including Real Madrid, had signed up as founding members of the ESL. The project has been backed with $ 6 billion in debt financing from JPMorgan.

ESL is designed to compete with the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s most important annual club competition, and is scheduled to start “as soon as possible”.

Teams that have agreed to play in the ESL:

  • England: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal.
  • Spain: Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid.
  • Italy: Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

The ESL will eventually be made up of 20 clubs and 15 of them will be permanent, which means that they cannot be relegated. That’s controversial because teams currently must qualify for the Champions League each year and can move up and down from the English Premier League, the Spanish League, and Italy’s Serie A.

The move has sparked outrage among legislators, governing bodies, former players, fans, coaches and experts, and many are concerned about the ramifications of the national competition structure.

That’s because the current “pyramid” system allows teams to move up and down their respective leagues on merit. The 14 Premier League clubs not participating in ESL are expected to discuss their response to the matter on Tuesday.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin condemned the ESL project and described the move as “spit in the face” of all football fans. “We will not allow it to be taken from us,” he added.

‘Basic principles’

In 2018, the Premier League reported a significant drop in the money raised from the sale of rights to broadcast football matches in the UK.

BT and Sky offered £ 4.4 billion ($ 6.1 billion) to televise the majority of 200 games each season between 2019 and 2022. That figure dropped from £ 5.1 billion in 2015.

In a joint statement on Sunday, the 12 teams planning to join the ESL said: “The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated instability in the existing European football economic model.”

“The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable business approach is required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire pyramid of European football,” they added.

Roberto Firmino of Liverpool shoots under pressure from Real Madrid’s Eder Militao during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Anfield on April 14, 2021 in Liverpool, England.

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Organizers say ESL will generate more money than UEFA Champions League competition and will result in a greater distribution of revenue across sport.

The world governing body, FIFA, has harshly criticized the proposal and called for further discussions with those involved.

“In our opinion, and in accordance with our statutes, any football competition, whether national, regional or global, should always reflect the basic principles of solidarity, inclusion, integrity and equitable financial distribution,” FIFA said on Monday. .

“Furthermore, the governing bodies of football should employ all legal, sporting and diplomatic means to ensure that this remains the case,” they added.

– CNBC Sam shead contributed to this report.


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