Blatter: Sport healthy and fans 'need stars'

JOHANNESBURG -- FIFA president Sepp Blatter says the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid shows soccer has a healthy market despite the global financial crisis.

The move "means that our product is still a good product. If this is the game of the people, they need stars," Blatter said Friday ahead of the Confederations Cup.

Manchester United accepted a world-record transfer offer of $131 million for Cristiano Ronaldo on Thursday, clearing the World Player of the Year to negotiate personal terms with Madrid.

Blatter's reaction contrasted with previous comments he has made about excessive spending for players and financial moves that could undermine the health of soccer clubs.

"OK, it is a lot of money, but he is performing," Blatter said. "We are on a very sensitive market nowadays because there is an economic crisis. ... In football, we are in still on the good market."

Blatter said the transfer total was not really different from the sums exchanged for Brazil striker Ronaldo more than a decade ago.

"It was already $50 million more than 10 years ago," he said. "So what is 80 million pounds now? That means there is still demand to have a star."

The profits from the transfer of Ronaldo will not be used to service United's debts, which have spiraled to almost $1 billion.

The return of Florentino Perez as Madrid's president means the billionaire is willing to spend in an effort to return the Spanish side to its glory days.

Kaka was signed from AC Milan this week for a reported fee of about $92 million. But the offer for Ronaldo would eclipse that and the $65 million it paid to get former France striker Zinedine Zidane from Juventus in 2001.

so let me get this straight Sepp...when English clubs buy foreign players its bad for the game, and means that we should have restrictions on how many foreign players a team can field, but when Spanish clubs buy foreign players it shows how strong the sport is...what a joke