Even as 10 of the 12 founding members of the European Super League withdrew after severe backlash from fans and former players, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez stressed that the breakaway league is far from dead.
Florentino Perez said the Super League is on standby and the stakeholders are working towards creating a “very similar” competition in the near future.
Pérez, who would have been the new league’s founding chairman, said the clubs behind the Super League will continue working on a way to make the competition work, even if changes have to be made to its format.
Perez said the group is open to discussing ideas with European football’s governing body and other entities to help the game amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are going to keep working,” Pérez told Spanish radio network SER in an interview.
“We are looking for ways of getting this done. It would be a shame not to get it done.”
The Super League was announced on Sunday but essentially folded after the English clubs involved in the project pulled out Tuesday amid escalating backlash from their supporters.
On Wednesday, Atlético Madrid and the three Italian clubs in the project – Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan – also opted out. That left Real Madrid and Barcelona as the only clubs still officially in the new league.
‘It was like we launched an atomic bomb’
However, Perez said no one has officially left the Super League and all of them are thinking of ways to make it happen. However, Pérez admitted that they should have explained the project better, and said he was “sad and disappointed” with the “avalanche of aggressive” and “orchestrated” criticism that surfaced everywhere.
“Each president was prepared to speak, but then the next day we got killed,” Pérez said.
“We weren’t expecting it. It was like we had launched an atomic bomb. It looked like they already knew about it and were waiting for us.”
He said one of the English clubs was not really interested in the project from the start and that was “contagious” for the rest of the Premier League owners who were afraid of the criticism at home.
The English clubs initially involved in the project were Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.
Italian clubs hint they still believe in the project
While some Premier League clubs apologized to their fans while pulling back on Tuesday, the teams which dropped out on Wednesday admitted defeat but tried to show they still believe in the project.
“While Juventus remains convinced of the soundness of the project’s sport, commercial and legal premises, it believes that at present there are limited chances that the project be completed in the form originally conceived,” the Italian club said.
“Juventus remains committed to pursuing the creation of long-term value for the Company and the entire football industry.”
AC Milan said the “voices and the concerns of fans around the world have clearly been expressed,” but the club “will continue to work hard to deliver a sustainable model” for football.
“We accepted the invitation to participate in the Super League project with the genuine intention to deliver the best possible European competition for football fans around the world and in the best interest of the club and our own fans,” the Italian club said.
“Change is not always easy, but evolution is necessary for progress, and the structures of European football have evolved and changed over the decades.”
Inter Milan said it was committed to delivering the best football experience for fans because “innovation and inclusion have been part of our DNA since our foundation.”
Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone said the whole controversy would eventually help football.
“When a movement like this happens, things end up changing, I have no doubt,” Simeone said. “All sides will have to eventually reach an agreement.”
Barcelona was the only team yet to comment, though its presence was always dependent on a vote by its general assembly. There was some internal pressure on the Catalan club, however, after outspoken captain Gerard Piqué made his view clear.