The calacticos tradition

The advent of a new millennium is characterised by excitement and hope. For Real Madrid fans, the year 2000 will remain memorable for other reasons too. It was the year which saw the election of businessman Florentino Pérez as the club’s president. The construction magnate had promised before the elections that he would buy Luís Figo from FC Barcelona, if he won. The rest, as they say, is history.

After the signing of Figo, Pérez established a trend of buying one star player before the start of every season and the Portuguese legend was followed by Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham in the following three seasons. The Real Madrid team of the early 2000s was henceforth called ‘ Los Galácticos’ or ‘The Superstars’ in English. However, this term was soon to gain a negative connotation as the Spanish giant failed to match the heightened expectations of its fans and pundits on the pitch.

Though initially associated with only Real Madrid, this term has since then been used to describe teams which have undertaken such efforts in other sports too like the French club Toulon in Rugby. Moreover, with the advent of the sheikhs and the oligarchs in European football it would not be improper to apply this term to other football teams either. In addition to traditionally strong teams like Manchester United, English football has also witnessed the rise of clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City on the basis of the money power that they possess and they, along with PSG, can now claim to be the ‘neo-galacticos’.

The UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations assume greater importance in this light as the gap between the rich and the poor clubs, much like human societies today, continues to increase.