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The global economy has been in a bit of a funk lately, but one sector that is performing well is soccer, and Sepp Blatter, the Swiss president of the sport’s world governing body, makes no apologies for it.
It has emerged this week that Real Madrid, the storied Spanish club, has offered to pay about $130 million to sign Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo and that Ronaldo’s current team, Manchester United, has agreed. If the deal goes ahead, it will be the most expensive in soccer’s history.
FIFA’s Blatter, who was in Johannesburg Friday ahead of the Confederations Cup that kicks off Sunday, told reporters the high price tag on Ronaldo’s transfer simply reflected the market’s demand.
“We are on a very sensitive market nowadays, because there is an economic crisis. If in football we are still on the good market it means that our product, football, is a good product, but not only a product to sell or to buy.” Blatter said. “It is a product that gives people what they want, and this is emotions.”
Blatter suggested that such a substantial sum is better spent on a star player that fans can see in action twice a week than on a Picasso painting bought at auction and kept out of the public eye by a private collector. He added that in these tough times, fans need distractions more than ever. A star like Ronaldo, who manages to dazzle with his skills as much as he irks with his antics, is sure to provide that on-field entertainment.