ZURICH, Canton of Zurich - Real Madrid's record outlay of a reported 101 million euros (S$170.25 million, £86 million) for Gareth Bale is a sign of the free market in action, FIFA chief Sepp Blatter said Tuesday.
Pressed on the symbolism of the incredible transfer fee to bring the Welshman from Londoners Tottenham Hotspur to the Spanish capital, Blatter declined to comment directly.
"You'll have to ask Real Madrid," he told reporters at FIFA's headquarters in the Swiss city of Zurich.
The Bale deal, which comes as Spain is locked in the deepest economic crisis in a generation, has been described by Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino as showing "a lack of respect" given the current climate.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, has described it as a "joke".
But Blatter said he was reminded of the debate over Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo's £80 million move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009.
"At the same time, in Sotheby's in London, there was an auction where they sold a painting of Spanish artist Picasso's Blue Period for 50 million pounds, which at the time was US$100 million," he said.