No club is as attached as Real Madrid to the European Cup, to a point where it is difficult to resolve the chicken or egg dilemma. What was the tournament first or the team that won it in its first five editions and with its brilliance placed it at the top of all competitions? That early success changed the life of football, UEFA and Real Madrid, then chaired by Santiago Bernabéu, an obligatory reference in a narrative that Real Madrid has internalized to the bone, now broken with the failed creation of the Super League.
Florentino Pérez has never lacked ambition, not in football, not in business. On the back of the two horses, he has become a central character in the economic, social and political landscape of Spain, with a shocking effect on an international scale. He has understood as few the times that run in the economic field. He is an excellent apostle of the ultra-liberal discourse of globality. With the same belligerence, he applies it to both business and football.
Since his first arrival to the club’s presidency in 2000 and the subsequent one in 2009, it is impossible to dissociate the work of Florentino Pérez from that of Bernabéu, in all the terms that correspond to the legacy of the leaders. Madrid has won five European Cups in this century, has built an admirable training center and its influence in the world of football is massive. The comparison is inevitable.
The luxurious reconstruction of the stadium is much more than the adaptation of a field to the times. It is the physical culmination of Florentino Pérez’s effort to reach the mythical ceiling of Bernabéu, the man who was ahead of his time with the construction of a colossal stadium, the creation of a sports city – the first of its kind in Spain – and the foundation of the European Cup, with all the consequences that that decision meant for Real Madrid.
The European Super League, passionately promoted by Florentino Pérez, deserves to be interpreted as the final attempt to match or surpass Bernabéu’s legacy. It is here where the president of Real Madrid risks his bet and breaks the narrative that his predecessor began. The difference lies in the approach to reality of a president who perfectly understood the sociology of football and the time in which he lived – popular impulse, backbone in post-world war Europe, visibility of an isolated country in the international political arena , access to the other side of the Iron Curtain – and a leader who has not understood the impressive social power of soccer, or has dismissed it without any embarrassment.
The idea of creating an elitist, exclusive and money-hungry space belongs to the logic that dominates the economy in this century. Florentino Pérez has applied it without reservation until reaching a point of no return. The Super League is its great creature, the selective and closed economic version of the European Cup in the 21st century. The work destined to define his stature in the history of football. It would not be the new Bernabéu, but the first Florentino Pérez.
The Super League points out several problems for the president of Real Madrid, some of both internal and external perception. He leads the club that has mythologized a competition from which he now abjures and in which he appears as the leader of a plot in his disappearance. If the Super League fails, and it seems that way at the moment, Florentino Pérez will have crashed into the wall of the European Cup, the magical building that Santiago Bernabéu built together with the newborn UEFA, and will seriously weaken the historical account that the madridismo.