Soccer-Madrid president Perez says fans are drifting away from football


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Real Madrid Training - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - February 14, 2022 Real Madrid president Florentino Perez REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

(Reuters) - Real Madrid President Florentino Perez said European football is "sick" and that changes are needed to stop younger fans drifting away from the sport, again touting the prospect of a Super League made up of the continent's elite clubs.

Perez is one of the key architects of the European Super League, which folded less than 48 hours after it was announced in April last year, following an outcry by fans, governments and players.

The response to the breakaway league forced Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid to pull out, but Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remain holdouts.

"Our beloved sport is sick, especially in Europe, and, of course, in Spain," Perez told the club's general assembly on Sunday. "Football is losing its position as the world's leading global sport.

"The most worrying fact is that young people are becoming less and less interested in football. The current competitions, as they are designed today, do not attract spectators' interest, except in the final stages."

The Super League sued UEFA and FIFA at a Spanish court, which later sought guidance from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union, which will deliver its ruling next year.

"The Super League remains in the midst of European court proceedings challenging UEFA's monopoly in European football," said Perez.

He also pointed to how infrequently top teams in football face each other and said midweek European competition should offer fans matches between "the strongest teams and with the best players in the world" throughout the year.

"If we look at the last Champions League finalists, Liverpool, a historic team with six European Cups, it turns out that we have played them only nine times in 67 years."

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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