Real Madrid’s record outlay of a reported 101 million euros ($133.5 million, £86 million) for Gareth Bale is a sign of the free market in action, FIFA chief Sepp Blatter said Tuesday.
Pressed on the symbolism of the incredible transfer fee to bring the Welshman from Londoners Tottenham Hotspur to the Spanish capital, Blatter declined to comment directly.
The Bale deal, which comes as Spain is locked in the deepest economic crisis in a generation, has been described by Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino as showing “a lack of respect” given the current climate.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, has described it as a “joke”.
But Blatter said he was reminded of the debate over Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo’s £80 million move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009.
Real Madrid are top players on the financial front thanks to deals on TV rights and sponsorship, among other revenue streams, and a global brand in their own right.
The Bale deal is just the latest in a string of “galactico” signings Real president Florentino Perez has made during two spells in charge of the club, in a drive to boost their success on the field and commercial revenue off it.
Auditors Deloitte’s latest Money League report showed that Real had become the first football club to generate more than 500 million euros a year, whilst Forbes ranked them as the most valuable sports team in the world last month with an estimated value of $3.3 billion.
But such price tags raise the stakes on the pitch, he noted, saying: “Gareth Bale can prove now that he’s better than Ronaldo.”