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Jun 13, 2009

FIFA president Blatter defends £80m Ronaldo fee

Real Madrid's world-record bid to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to the Bernabeu has been defended by the FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Speaking in South Africa ahead of the Confederations Cup, which is set to kick off on Sunday, the football supremo dismissed any fears over the Spanish giants' £80m bid for the Manchester United midfielder, insisting that it proved the game's ever-improving popularity.

"We are in a very sensitive market nowadays, because there is an economic crisis," he said. "But in football, if we are in a good market, it means that football is a good product, not just to buy or sell but a product that gives people what they want, which is emotions.

"This is the game of the people and they need stars. Okay, it is a lot of money, but he is performing."

The FIFA World Player of the Year is finally set to join Real after his current employers accepted a bid on Thursday following protracted speculation since last summer. The offer came only days after the club's ambitious new president Florentino Perez completed another massive signing in the form of Brazil ace Kaka from AC Milan for a reported fee of £56m.

Blatter said that this trend was nothing new, pointing to the transfer of another Brazilian superstar, Ronaldo, who moved to the same club a few years back, as the perfect example.

He continued: "Look, there was a case 10 years ago when there was a contract made by a player going from one Spanish club to another Spanish club and he had the same name at the time, and it was US$ 50m?.

"So what is £80m now? That means there is still demand to have a star."

The comments by the FIFA head come after UEFA President Michel Platini described the deal as "excessive" and called it a "serious challenge to the idea of fair play".

But Blatter added: "Ten years ago there was painting from Picasso's Blue Period was sold by Sothebys in London at that time for over £100m.

"And what happened to this painting by Picasso? They hid it somewhere so no-one could take it away. Nobody can see it.

"But a football player, you can see him once or twice a week, he is there, he is a star, he is being billed as a star. It is not the money he is getting, it's the money between the clubs.

"Okay, you might say it is too much, but you have to put it in context of what football in our society is worth and what other things in our society are worth."

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