Cristiano Ronaldo’s rift with Florentino Perez before Super League spat: ‘Not about money’

Cristiano Ronaldo: Star plays football with his kids

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Premier League chief executive Richard Masters he is prepared to drop a “legislative bomb”, as he vowed to do “whatever it takes” to stop the European Super League (ESL) in its tracks. He was speaking following widespread outrage after a dozen clubs from England, Spain and Italy announced plans to set up a “new midweek competition”, which could see Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid expelled from the Champions League and Manchester United and Arsenal facing the same fate in the Europa League. Mr Perez, who is the newly-installed chairman of the proposed tournament, says the plans were created to “save football,” claiming that young people are “no longer interested” in the sport because of “a lot of poor quality games”.

However, critics – including former legends of the game like Alan Shearer and Gary Neville – say the move is being driven purely by money, would destroy domestic leagues and is against the integrity of the sport.

But it is not the first time Mr Perez has ruffled the feathers of footballing greats.

Ronaldo said a spat with the 74-year-old convinced him to call time on his nine-year career with the La Liga giants.

Ronaldo, who joined Juventus for around £90million in 2018, said during an interview with France Football: “I felt it inside the club, especially from the President, that they no longer considered me the same way that they did in the start.

“In the first four or five years there I had the feeling of being ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’. Less afterwards.

“The President looked at me through eyes that didn’t want to say the same thing, as if I was no longer indispensable to them, if you know what I mean.

“That’s what made me think about leaving.

“Sometimes I’d look at the news, where they were saying I was asking to leave. There was a bit of that but the truth is I always had the impression the President would not hold me back.”

Some had claimed that Ronaldo left to earn more money as he approached the end of his career – including Mr Perez who said he had requested a salary hike in a new contract.

But the 36-year-old said that was not the case.

He added in 2018: “If it had all been about money, I’d have moved to China, where I would have earned five times as much than here [at Juventus] or at Real.

“I did not come to Juve for the money. I earned the same in Madrid, if not more.

“The difference is that, at Juve, they really wanted me. They told me that and made it clear. They showed me that.

“The truth is that the president wanted me but, at the same time, he made it known to me that my departure would not constitute a problem.”

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The Premier League ‘Big Six’ involved in the ESL plans are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

The league’s “other 14” clubs have met this morning and released a statement vowing to “consider all actions available” to stop the ESL, and “holding those shareholders involved to account”.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola also spoke out during his press conference, saying: “Sport is not sport if losing doesn’t matter” and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hinted he was of the same opinion.

Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, has said he and his organisation “strongly disapprove” of the new Super League and warned clubs involved in the breakaway plot that they cannot be “half in, half out”.

And cracks are reportedly “starting to appear” in the plans with one Premier League club “seriously considering pulling out” after the furious backlash.

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