ON Saturday night, May 26, 2018, at 8:45pm this part of the world — 7:45pm British Summer Time — Real Madrid, the world’s most successful football club, will clash with Liverpool in an epic Champions League final battle at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine; home to Dynamo Kiev.
As a Madridista, I’m confident we are winning. With five European cups Liverpool is a good team, but the difference is that Madrid win when they have to.
Madrid are officially the most successful club in the world, according to Fifa.
They are the current holders of the Fifa World Club Cup for two consecutive seasons, after becoming the only team to retain the Champions League in the modern era — a record under the Uefa Champions League format.
Of course, they hold the record of winning the European Cup, which was replaced by the Uefa Champions League, five times successively. They will be chasing their own record in Kiev!
The Kiev theatre of dreams hosted the Euro 2012 final and has a seating capacity of 63 000 — the second largest in eastern Europe.
By Madrid standards this is a small venue; Santiago Bernabeu holds 81 044.
By contrast, Liverpool’s Anfield has a 54 074 capacity.
Besides, every season Madrid plays at least a match at the intimidating Camp Nou, Barcelona’s home with a 99 354 capacity.
It is the largest stadium in Spain and Europe, and the second largest in the world behind Rungrado May Day Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea.
Interestingly, the fifth biggest football arena in the world is just across the Limpopo border in South Africa, FNB Stadium which carries 94 736.
This brings me to the main issue: leadership. President Emmerson Mnangagwa should follow Real Madrid, if already he doesn’t.
It would be interesting to know which team he supports if he likes soccer.
He must study and learn how Madrid became the biggest and most influential sporting institution in the world.
Mnangagwa can draw important leadership and governance lessons from the club.
One of the most important issues he will come across is meritocracy; deploying human capital, that is skills, knowledge and experience, to positions on merit.
Our leaders at all levels, including Mnangagwa, can learn from Madrid that you cannot rise above the capacity and quality of your team.
As a leader if you surround yourself with mediocrity, you inevitably produce mediocre results.
This is the model Perez Florentino, Real Madrid president, has taught the world of business, management and leadership.
The Spanish tycoon does not tolerate mismanagement, financial failure and mediocrity in his team.
His model is clear: only the best coaches and players can achieve big dreams for Madrid.
Hence, he seeks to get the best for sporting, branding and financial reasons.
Perez always fires mediocre coaches and insists on not just winning but doing so with flair and showmanship.
That is why Madrid have won three Champions League cups in four years between 2014 and 2017.
They also had an 11-year streak of topping Deloitte’s Football Money League.
This consolidated their great domestic and European history, or legend.
Perez is most famous for ushering in Madrid’s galácticos policy — buying expensive and world-famous superstars.
Although he did not succeed that much during his initial tenure beginning 2000 with megastars like Iker Casillas, Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Raul and Ronaldo “O Fenômeno”, among others, in his first years in office Madrid won two Spanish Championships and its then record ninth European Cup.
Now it has 12 trophies — five more than second-placed AC Milan.
Perez left in between but bounced back in 2009, buying a new generation of stars, including Ronaldo CR7.
He managed to lift Madrid from the doldrums to sporting and financial heights again through vision, big ideas, execution, results, inspiration and great leadership.
The truth is good and effective leadership has a direct financial impact on an organisation, company or economy.
Effective leaders like Perez produce better outcomes.
Mnangagwa can learn a lot from Madrid. Meanwhile, don’t miss the Kiev spectacle on Saturday night. Hala Madrid!