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Connect the World
New Restrictions in Europe as Omicron Variant Spreads; Turkish Currency Crisis Deepens as Lira Takes New Nosedive; Gabriel Boric Elected Chile's Youngest President At 35; Chinese Tennis Star Denies She Made Sex Assault Accusation; Author of "The Barcelona Complex" Speaks with Connect the World; Alicia Keys Novel "Girl on Fire" to be Released in 2022. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired December 20, 2021 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, Abu Dhabi. This is "Connect the World" with Becky Anderson.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour will the Omicron variant force Europe to cancel Christmas? I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and
welcome to "Connect World".
Europe is on lockdown alert as the Omicron Coronavirus variant spreads through the continent and if you live in Europe, chances are you are
already seeing the impact. Germany now banning anyone from for example the UK other than German citizens or residents from entering the country its
new Coronavirus Expert Council calling for nationwide measures and a massive booster program to curtail the spread or else face a winter of
isolation and illness.
In the UK where the booster drive is in full throttle the Health Secretary warning new restrictions are possible this week. London's Mayor believes
they are inevitable after a week when Omicron pushed COVID-19 cases to new record highs.
Denmark shutting down cinemas and museums restaurants and bars closing early its health ministry warning new infections there could reach 45,000 a
day by Christmas. Well, the Netherlands, closing most schools and daycare facilities through early January limiting indoor gatherings and banning
spectators from sporting events. Barbie Nadeau has more on what is happening there and across Europe.
BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A collective sigh in the Netherlands as some of the strictest new COVID-19 measures went into effect
on Sunday to try to contain the highly contagious Omicron variant.
Acknowledging it's not the Christmas many people wanted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Ruta urged people to stay at home as much as possible, and
said non-essential shops will be closed until January 14th, and schools shut until at least January 9th.
For many it was a frustrating announcement that dashed many holiday plans just days away from Christmas. This man says we've done everything we could
we're fully vaccinated, and in the end it all goes in the wrong direction.
Before the lockdown went into effect long lines of shoppers rush to the stores for some last minute Christmas shopping. The government also
cracking down on how many people can attend holiday gatherings? Only two guests will be allowed in a private home with the exception of Christmas
Eve Christmas day the day after Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day when four are permitted.
Previous Coronavirus measures have been unpopular in the country with violent protests erupted in November. This weekend, police clash with small
groups of protesters thousands of people demonstrated in Brussels, and there were also protests in London, Paris and in cities in Germany. But
despite the public pressure, many European countries are considering re- imposing new COVID-19 restrictions the threat of Omicron much greater than the pockets of discontent.
Italian media reporting that the government could soon make masks mandatory outdoors and require a negative test for vaccinated people to enter crowded
public venues. Denmark is set to close cinemas, theaters and museums and will limit the amount of people in stores and shops. One resident said it's
a bleak way to end the year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seeing all the countries Denmark among them slowly starting to shut down. Some of them are even completely shut down. It's a
little bit depressing.
NADEAU: No country wanting a lockdown before Christmas but Omicron may make further restrictions unavoidable. Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.
ANDERSON: Well, Ben Wedeman has been following these developments across Europe joining me today from Kerrville in Italy. No one wants new
restrictions Ben, the question is, are they inevitable at this point?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Barbie - Becky, it looks like that's the case. If you just the numbers are so disturbing. I
mean, for instance, in Denmark, the number of people testing positive with the Omicron variant is doubling every two days. And the authorities there
reluctant to take these draconian measures but they fear it's the only way to do it despite the political cost to try to bring the spread of this
variant under control.
Here for instance, in the Latino region where Rome is located, the health assessor has said that perhaps they're going to have to make vaccines
obligatory mandatory. And of course, what we've seen so far in many European countries is that suggestion is political dynamite but given the
gravity of the health crisis we're seeing at a time when many people thought that perhaps life was getting back to normal.
WEDEMAN: It may be the only way to deal with this mounting crisis Becky.
ANDERSON: Is it clear at this point how health infrastructure is coping across the continent?
WEDEMAN: At the moment, it seems that most countries are dealing with it. The worry is that perhaps as after the holiday season, it could get much
worse. For instance, in the Netherlands, they're worried that with the rising number of new cases that by January, the health system could be
Oddly enough here in Italy, the numbers are actually going down. But given the experience of health officials here from the beginning of 2020, when
Italy was really reeling from Coronavirus, previous variants, of course, they don't want to take any chances at this point, Becky?
ANDERSON: Fascinating Ben, thank you for that! Well, policy differences to tackle the COVID crisis have led to at least one high level resignation in
the UK. Former Brexit Minister David Frost resigned over the weekend but he says he still supports Boris Johnson's leadership.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is now the lead negotiator with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol. Well, my next guest says "The political
psychodrama around Johnson is extraordinary. If it were not so serious, it would be very funny". The idea of Liz Truss being called on as a "Fairy
Godmother" to rescue Brexit from meltdown is surreal. Or is she Cinderella? Bring on the pumpkin coach to take us to the pandemic pantomime".
He said, well, that was Quentin Peel with the Euro Program at the Independent London Based Policy Institute. Chatham House Joining us now
live what did you mean by that?
QUENTIN PEEL, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, EUROPE PROGAMME. CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, it really is a political pantomime that's going on. I mean, Boris Johnson,
who, after all has always presented himself almost deliberately as a bit of a clown suddenly finds he's in the most desperate political battle for his
life, just while the COVID pandemic is going on.
He's turned to Liz Truss, whose ambitions to be really his probable successor as prime minister, a plain for everyone to see. He's asking her
really to rescue the Brexit program, which is looking in a big mess because of the departure of the Chief Negotiator, David Frost.
And all of this against a background where there's a rebellion of conservative members of parliament against Boris Johnson. He had a
devastating by election loss last week when he lost a seat that had been conservative for 200 year. He just seems to be in terrible trouble.
ANDERSON: Yes, but how much pressure is he under at this point? It seems that he is in terrible trouble but is it clear whether he is on his last
legs at this point?
PEEL: I don't entirely because there's no obvious successor including Liz Truss. I don't think anybody is rushing in to replace him. So because after
all, who wants to pick up the ball now in the middle of this pandemic, which is ghastly?
So rather make poor old Boris Johnson suffers for another six months. But look very much like a lame duck that actually get rid of him now. So the
one thing that's keeping him there is that the job looks absolutely ghastly.
ANDERSON: What do you make of his actions to date over the past couple of weeks when it comes to this Omicron variant? I mean, how do you assess his
performance at this point?
PEEL: Well, it's very - it's nasty to be tough on him because he got things badly wrong at the beginning of the pandemic, and he looked far too laid
back and he didn't want to really clamp down on it. No, things look very tough.
And he does seem to want to clamp down and at just this moment, he's got a very significant group of his own party supporters allegedly, who are in
revolt because they say we don't want to clamp down. So just when Boris Johnson seems to be getting real, the rest of his party seems to be getting
unreal. You couldn't - you couldn't invent it.
ANDERSON: You say a backbench rebellion allegedly. Point is we keep hearing senior Tory backbenchers as they are known at one have to assume these are
Conservative MPs who've been around for a long time. Talking to the press, but not prepared to actually go on record and say that they are fed up with
this leadership that they are fed up with this government and they want change. Why is that?
PEEL: Well, the truth is that I think that coming at him from all sides; it's not just the hard-line, old, right wing Brexit voters who feel that
he's betraying them by apparently going a bit soft on Brexit. And that's why David Frost may have left.
But it's also the new intake of his party members, who all came in, thanks to the hugely successful general election that he had in January 2019
where, he ended up with this vast majority in parliament. But Prime Ministers have to beware very large majorities because then people feel
much more able to matter behind his back and eventually to come out in the open.
I think nobody wants to bring it to a head right now. But Boris Johnson is looking much wounded Prime Minister and his normal - is actually also
leading to him being increasingly incoherent in public. We've seen him lose his place in speeches ramble off on strange diversions. So I think
everybody's embarrassed, but nobody wants to put the knife in from the front.
ANDERSON: Right, you're talking about the Conservative Party. His own party, just briefly and for the benefit of our viewers who may not be as,
as across British politics, as you are and Quentin, one of the opposition at this point?
PEEL: Well, the opposition ironically, seems to be backing Boris Johnson on taking rather tough measures to clamp down on the pandemic and actually
calling for things like having some sort of vaccination passport which people might have to have in order to go to sports events or night clubs
and things like that.
So that's what his party doesn't want. But the Labor Party in opposition thinks it's a good idea. So there he is, apparently, relying increasingly
on the Labor Party to get tough measures through but losing the support of his own party. It's not a comfortable place to be.
ANDERSON: Quentin, it's always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.
ANDERSON: Israeli leaders also scrambling to get a hold of the Coronavirus situation. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declaring a fifth wave has now
begun. You can see the seven day moving average here starting to creep up on this graph. It's fueled by the Omicron variant and even though each
person infected is less likely to have severe symptoms.
The sheer number of cases could strain their health system in Israel and quite frankly, everywhere else in the world. Mr. Bennett is urging everyone
to get a third shot and for kids to be vaccinated as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Omicron is already here from the - to kindergartens, and it is spreading quickly. The numbers are not yet
high. But it is a very infectious variant and with the rate of infection doubling every two to three days as we are seeing around the world, we can
say that the fifth wave has begun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the Health Ministry also says it's going to storm the education system to increase the number of vaccination centers in schools
tenfold. Well just head on "Connect the World" Turkish business leaders lash out and President Erdogan is Turkey's troubled currency makes another
And from one financial crisis to another FC Barcelona is a football club in free fall. Author Simon Cooper joins us to explain how the collapse has
unfolded? And with Christmas right around the corner, I talked to Grammy Award Winning Singer Alicia Keys about favorite songs to sing this time of
ANDERSON: More economic turmoil in Turkey and sits currency crisis deepens the Turkish Lira touching a new low a short time ago after President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan rejected business warnings about the dangers of recent interest rate cuts.
Now, the troubled currency has lost about 50 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar since September. And that is making basic goods
unaffordable for many. I want to bring in CNN's Arwa Damon who's standing by for us in Istanbul.
The Turkish President absolutely determined that he will continue with this policy of cutting rates against the odds if anybody's - economics one in
one out there, they'll know that raising rates would support this currency. So why is it what's his rationale at this point?
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRSPONDENT: Well, Becky, it seems like he does very firmly believe that this is the best course of action
despite as you're saying all sorts of advice and criticism that he has been getting.
To the contrary, President Erdogan has very much since the onset of this economic crisis downturn, whatever you're going to call it been saying that
this is part of a larger foreign conspiracy and that Turkey is going to withstand this and that outsiders or critics are not going to determine how
he decides to run the country's economy. Just take a listen to what he said over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT: Sooner or later, just as we lowered inflation all the way to 4 percent when I came to power, we will
lower it again, we will make it fall again. But I will not let my citizens my people be crushed under interest rates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAMON: And President Erdogan, one does firmly believe that by lowering interest rates, he is somehow going to prevent the collapse of the Lira.
However, every single time he does take the decision to have those interest rates lowered.
We watched the Lira once again and Becky for many who are watching what's happening. I mean, some days the Lira just bounces back and forth so fast,
it would give you whiplash and then it crashes down.
Once again, it's almost hard to believe that there was a point in time earlier this year where we were saying that 10 Lira to the U.S. dollar was
going to be the psychological threshold. Well we crossed that threshold a long time ago.
Right now we're talking about the lira being at about you know 17/18 to the dollar and of course the impact of this on the population here has been
quite dramatic and quite devastating.
ANDERSON: Yes, to what degree just explains if you will.
DAMON: Well, to put it simply if you were living comfortably relatively comfortably. Right now you are making calculations when you go out to the
market in terms of what can you buy? What perhaps should you hold off on filling your fridge with this week?
As taxi cabs are more expensive gas at the stations is significantly more expensive rental cars are more expensive and so people's standard of living
is de facto being lowered by this new economic reality. If you had savings in the bank and let's say for example you wanted to take a trip overseas
what you can actually afford has been significantly diminished.
DAMON: Look, its New Year's Eve is coming up, you know, people want to buy their kids gifts they want to be able to celebrate. But right now everyone
is making these very tough choices. And that is for people that as I was saying are or were relatively comfortable, if you were struggling before
now you're struggling even more. And so this is such a big gamble on the part of President Erdogan.
But it's really a gamble with the population's lives and livelihoods and it has put many analysts will say him in a more vulnerable position now than
arguably he has ever been when it comes to his popularity.
ANDERSON: Arwa Damon is in Istanbul in Turkey. Thank you, Arwa. Let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our regional radar right
now. And at least one person was killed during protests in Sudan, thousands gathered outside the Presidential Palace to protest October's Military
The Military reinstated the prime minister last month, you'll remember but that did not stop these protests. The weather appears to fit the somber
mood as the U.N. Chief paid tribute earlier to the victims of the 2020 port blast in Beirut.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is calling for in his words an impartial investigation. More than 200 people were killed in the Lebanese
Capitol and thousands were injured when chemicals stored at the port exploded.
Iran says its foreign minister held brief discussions with his Saudi counterpart on Monday it was on the sidelines of the organization for
Islamic Cooperation conference. Two countries are trying to thought relations frozen since 2016.
Iranian spokesman says the progress of talks with Saudi Arabia will depend on the Saudis seriousness but sad update to Thursday's inflatable Castle
tragedy to an Australian school a sixth child has died as a result of his injuries. Winds lifted the bouncy castle 10 meters into the air and it
dropped. Mimi Becker from our affiliate Nine News has the details.
MIMI BECKER, REPORTER: Police will begin the difficult task of speaking to a number of years five and six students who watched this tragedy unfold.
Four specialized child forensic interviewers from New South Wales Police Force have flown into Devonport to help in that difficult and sensitive
The investigators have arrived and done a walkthrough at the school here examining the scene and the surrounds. We understand that up to 40 children
were participating in the jumping castle activity when this incident unfolded last Thursday, and now all of those students will need to be
It comes as Tasmania Police confirmed a sixth child has now died 11 year old Chase Harrison, the cane basketball player passed away yesterday with
his family by his side in hospital. The Hillcrest Primary School student now joins a heartbreaking roll call of classmates killed in this
devastating incident, two other children remain in a critical condition in the Royal Hobart hospital fighting for their lives.
ANDERSON: It's an historic time in Chile; voters there have chosen the youngest president in the nation's history. We'll get you live to San Diego
and talk about the challenges, the new president faces plus record low turnout less than one in three eligible voters cast their ballots in Hong
Kong's legislative election, some even asking why bother.
ANDERSON: The presidential runoff in Chile when - left and made history. Voters chose the liberal progressive or Gabriel Boric over the Right Wing
Josie or Jose Antonio Kast. Boric becomes the youngest president in Chile's history, he is 35 years old.
Election officials say he won about 56 percent of the vote on Sunday. Kast has been likened to former U.S. President Donald Trump although he conceded
his loss and congratulated Boric. Well, CNN's Rafael Romo is live in San Diego with more on what was an historic election these two candidates could
not be more different. So in the end, what was it about Boric which swung the vote as it were?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There were many reasons Becky, how are you? One of them was that he was able to mobilize the younger generations and
who voted for him who listened to his message of a better bigger government. And that's why he went to the polls.
And Chilean says you said had two very clear choices, a 35 year old leftist former student activists who promised a lot better, a bigger government
with more social services paid for by taxing the rich and a conservative attorney who campaigned on a law in order platform, family values and a
They chose Gabriel Boric who will become Chile's youngest president at least since the country's return to democracy in 1990. Boric prom is the
kind of government that takes care of people's needs by raising taxes on the rich.
During the campaign he spoke about improving public education and welfare programs as well as protecting human rights, LGBTQ rights and the
environment. His rival conservative Attorney Jose Antonio Kast - conceded defeat calling Boric less than two hours after polls closed.
And the trend became a reversible. Boric's victory was also swiftly recognized by current President, Sebastian Pinera who had a video
conference call with the winner moments later. How will Boric govern once he takes office in less than three months?
Well, after a tooth and nail campaign in a very polarized country, Boric was ready to turn the page when he addressed Chileans. After winning the
election he thanked his supporters, and said he will be a president for all Chileans.
Leaders from across Latin America and the Caribbean, including presidents Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba and Colombia's Ivan Duque congratulated the new
president elect. Boric will take office on March 11 for a four year term. The turnout was massive Becky even larger than November's first round, more
than 8 million people went to the polls, about 56 percent of the electric, Becky, back to you.
ANDERSON: It's not going to be easy, very briefly, the economy isn't robust at present and there have been protests on a regular basis. Is it clear
whether the Chilean people are prepared to at least give Boric, a honeymoon period to show them what he thinks he can do at this point?
ROMO: It is highly unlikely Becky for one thing; he's going to inherit a divided Congress that is going to make it very difficult for any of his
agenda to pass through. He also has to deal with an assembly to rewrite the constitution. And what you just mentioned those protests had left more than
30 people dead in late 2019.
ROMO: And that have continued on and off of very tough challenges, indeed for a president who is supposed to take office in less than three months.
But then again, there was there were a lot of people in a party mood last night, but let's see what happens in the next few months. Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. Keep an eye on what's going on in Chile. Thank you. In Hong Kong pro-Beijing candidates are claiming victory in Sunday's legislative
election there amid what was a historically low voter turnout.
Sunday's legislative council vote was the first since Beijing introduced what a major reforms that allow any so called Pro Chinese patriots to run.
Well, that resulted in none of the major pro-democracy parties taking part.
About 30 percent of voters cast their ballots, the lowest since the handover in 1997 from Britain. Chinese officials call that number
reasonable, but also blame activists and foreign powers for undermining the election. Critics meanwhile, call the entire process undemocratic. CNN's
Will Ripley has more.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've been standing outside this polling place here in Hong Kong and here and at other polling sites around the
territory that we visited. Almost nobody seems to be showing up to actually vote. The few people walking in here say they're going swimming.
It's a very stark contrast to what we saw in 2019, where there were long lines of people who were fired up at the height of the pro-democracy
movement. Many of the political candidates that people voted for back then are now either in exile or in jail. And then one taxi driver on the way
over here told me why vote. What's the point?
RIPLEY (voice over): Election Day, Hong Kong, what a difference two years makes. In 2019 voter lines around the block, a landslide victory for pro-
democracy parties, in 2021, those parties and most of their candidates absent, just like many Hong Kong voters.
The crowds at this polling site Sunday, mainly media, covering Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, arrive early to cast her vote. Lam telling Chinese state
media, low voter turnout could be a sign the government is doing a good job.
This is Hong Kong's first general election since China imposed major voting reforms. New mechanisms to vet candidates, making sure only so called
patriots those loyal to Beijing can run those reforms and a sweeping National Security Law imposed by Beijing.
In the wake of 2019 pro-democracy protests, erasing many of Hong Kong's freedoms promised for 50 years under one country two systems. Pro-democracy
activist and former Hong Kong legislator Nathan Law, now living in exile in London, he calls this weekend's vote, a selection, not an election.
NATHAN LAW, HONG KONG ACTIVIST LIVING IN EXILE: It's impossible for us to get into the race. So I think it's really clear for all of us that this is
just not an ordinary or not a free and fair election. It's just a selection process by Beijing and they're putting on a show.
RIPLEY (voice over): A show law says is part of Beijing's bigger plan to make Hong Kong just like any other Chinese city, ruled by an authoritarian
government, dissenting voices silenced either in exile or in jail.
LAW: We've lost our autonomy, freedom.
RIPLEY (voice over): City leaders condemning activist calls to boycott the election or cast blank votes in protest. Pro-Beijing legislator Michael
Tien says Hong Kong's election is legitimate.
MICHAEL TIEN, PRO-BEIJING CANDIDATE: The competition is keen in the stand that everybody wants to have the highest number of votes.
RIPLEY (voice over): He echoes China's criticism of American democracy.
TIEN: Chinese think that the Western system is blind democracy. It leads to people who at the end define the election result anyway, like Donald Trump.
So they say what's the difference?
RIPLEY (voice over): The difference at these polling stations is clear. Democracy on China's terms means many Hong Kong voters simply don't show
RIPLEY: Even if many Hong Kong residents are not taking this election seriously, the officials certainly are. They've actually issued arrest
warrants for pro-democracy activists accusing them of inciting others not to vote not to participate in this election with 90 seats available yet
only 20 actually directly elected and chosen by the public. Will Ripley CNN, Hong Kong.
ANDERSON: Well in neighboring China new questions about whether tennis star Peng Shuai is being silenced by authorities after what appears to be a
shocking about face. In an interview with a Singapore based newspaper, Peng now says she never accused anyone of sexual assault that is despite a now
deleted post on a social media account about being coerced into sex by a former senior Chinese official. This is what Peng had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENG SHUAI, CHINESE TENNIS PLAYER: I want to emphasize one thing that is very important that I have never spoken or written about anyone sexually
assaulting me. This point is very important to be emphasized clearly. In terms of the Weibo post first of all, it's my personal privacy. There
possibly has been a lot of misunderstanding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the Chinese authorities have never acknowledged Peng's allegation and any discussion that the story has been censored in China.
You're watching "Connect the World" with me Becky Anderson, up next the club in total disarray both on and off the pitch.
I'm going to ask an expert on FC Barcelona, what on earth went wrong. And with Christmas right around the corner, I sit down with Grammy Award
winning musician Alicia Keys to find out how she spends the holidays with her family.
ANDERSON: COVID outbreaks in football clubs half empty stadiums and postponed fixtures, these could be headlines from April 2020. English
football teams are yet again though feeling the pinch of the Pandemic.
But the Premier League reportedly has decided to continue with its festive fixture list at least for now. 10 English Premier League games have been
postponed this month due to outbreak sparking calls for a winter break to protect players or the decision to ignore those requests was taken after
crunch talks with clubs today.
Well, the financial impact and uncertainty of empty stadiums and postponed fixtures is of course, or has certainly swept Europe and it might hit
harder for one club in particular. Earlier this month, Barcelona crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage for the first time in 20
years after a humiliating defeat to German giants Bayern Munich.
Off the pitch the club's finances are in disarray. It reported a loss of more than half a billion dollars this year. FC Barcelona also has $1.5
billion in liabilities and that includes a lot of debt and an inflated wage bill which actually increased by 61 percent in three years leading up to
March of 2021.
My next guest is Author Simon Kuper, his book; The Barcelona Complex charts the rise and fall of the team over the last four decades. In one of his
recent Financial Times columns he said, I thought I will be explaining the club's rise to greatness and I have. But I've also ended up charting its
decline and fall. Well, Simon Kuper joins me now.
ANDERSON: Before we can discuss what has gone wrong in this club which has fans the world over we've got to explain what made surely this club such a
success. Can you do that?
SIMON KUPER, AUTHOR, "THE BARCELONA COMPLEX": I think it starts with your - the greatest Footballer of the 70s came from Holland to Barcelona in 1973,
came back as a coach in 1988. And - was really the man who invented modern football.
The fast passing high pressing all attack game and the opposition's half that we know today for Manchester City or Bayern Munich or Italy. He really
invented that he intuited that in the 60s, he brings it to Barcelona.
He makes it the club style, and he really revolutionizes the way the club raises young players. So it creates he creates the best youth academy
really in the history of football.
The great generation pours out events around the years 2000 from Xavi to Messi to --. And these guys playing - and football under Christ disciple of
Pep Guardiola they produce the best football many of us have ever seen in sort of 2008, 2012, so it starts with craft the invention of one football.
ANDERSON: Yes, and then who's soccer skills I grew up watching as well, a great hero of mine. I remember meeting what a tremendous what a tremendous
player and coach. And really a football mind as you say that that was second to none so, so what went wrong?
KUPER: I think one of the problems is that when you're number one, you get lazy Barcelona, were number one for most of the decade from about 2006.
They have this wonderful generation produced in house homegrown players playing beautiful football, the best player of all time in Leo Messi and
you stop thinking and you start spending money is pouring in.
So you spend it more easily. They raise salaries all the time, messy salary tripled between 2014 and 2020 all the other players' salaries follow.
Whenever they buy a player the asking club doubles their asking price and Barsa pay it.
And then when the pandemic hits, it turns out they've run out of money and they've run out of ideas. The whole football world copied their football
copy dailies Academy, and meanwhile Barcelona stood still they stopped thinking.
ANDERSON: You talked about Lionel Messi, just how damaging reputationally has it been for them losing a player widely regarded as the greatest of all
time that goes? It might help the finances considering Barcelona paid him more than half a billion in four years. But you know did they need to lose
him for a club of that size to lose a player that way.
KUPER: I mean it was more than misfortune. It was carelessness. Looking back, they should have sold him in 2020. When he asked to leave after the
he defeats Bayern Munich, he hands in a transfer request.
The president receives it surrounded by senior executives, a couple of the executives say let him go, we'll get you know 150 million or so in transfer
fee will lose his salary of over 150 million. There's money to build a new team.
President of the time says I will not be the president who lets him go. And I think with hindsight that was a mistake and so in 2021, with the chaos
and forcing the league, forcing them to cut their salary bill at that point in 2021, they're spending more than their entire revenues on salaries.
There's just no way to keep the player even having a salary. They just didn't have that money.
ANDERSON: He of course went to PSG owned by the Qataris and there are some major football clubs across the continent, not least of course, in the EPL,
the English Premier League Man City, for example owned by the, one of the members of the royal family here, where I am in, in Abu Dhabi.
What lessons, if any, can be learned from the Barcelona experience for these other big brands, these big clubs around Europe and elsewhere? Or is
it that Barcelona is simply a unique football club?
KUPER: I think it's a one off me think the disaster of Barcelona is about things to do with Barcelona. A lot of people want to see it as a morality
tale of football clubs spend too much money and they're all going to collapse and they're going to disappear.
It's not going to happen. I mean, pandemic was the worst experience for many clubs in over a century of existence. It was the first time even
including World Wars. They've been playing behind closed doors without fans for a prolonged period. And they've all got through it even 20 clubs have
got through it.
KUPER: The one big club to meltdown in this period is Barsa, and it's due to their own mistakes. And you know, I spend a lot of time at the club
writing the book, and people would say to me, Oh, well, we can't compete anymore with these state owned clubs like Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester
Well, Liverpool is not state owned, they compete. Manchester City competes, Bayern Munich competes. So I don't really see that there's, you know, the
oligarchs and the states have swept away member run clubs. Real Madrid is a member of the club they seem to be doing all right. I really think
Barcelona dug their own grave.
ANDERSON: The European Super League was a major bone of contention for fans this year. Many fans said the founding clubs were greedy. They wanted to
hoard more money and wield more power than they already do. I wonder how you felt about that episode. And where did Barcelona FC or FC Barcelona fit
KUPER: I mean the Super League was disgusting. But it was also farcical. I mean, as you say, it was driven by greed of the club owners of these 12
clubs wanting to create a closed league. But it was so poorly planned.
They hadn't thought at all about getting fans and media on side or politicians that when they launched it, and it turns out, nobody liked it,
which was a surprise to them. Almost all the clubs collapse immediately. Where did Barcelona fit in?
Barcelona was desperate. This is in April 2021. And Barcelona, the people running the club realize there's a whole of nearly $2 billion. Where are we
going to get the money? Well, we're going to join the Super League, and then we'll get a dollop of cash and that will sort out our short term
They were only thinking short term. They were brought into this by Real Madrid by your renters. The two clubs that were the ringleaders and Barsa
were kind of they felt helpless to resist. They were the most desperate of the big clubs, and they still want the Super League because they're still
ANDERSON: Yes, the scheme of course, ultimately failed after backlash. But in a statement, this summer, Barcelona said it plans to keep developing the
Super League projects in a constructive and cooperative manner.
And went on to say some other stuff that you've given us the, the, your sense of what happened here. Look, we talked about and you talk about in
the book, which is a terrific read Johan Cruyff, the legendary footballer and coach - and something in and you say yourself built the club.
Ultimately, someone from his school of football is Xavi of course; he's now head coach, is there any signs yet from the work that he's been doing that
might make Barcelona fans a little bit optimistic.
And look, you know, Barcelona fans, as we know, are not just Spaniards living in Spain. I mean, there are Barsa fans all over the world. Wherever
we have viewers there will be a Barcelona fan.
KUPER: I was in Barcelona in November. And I was amazed really at the optimism that the arrival of Xavi has thought. And I can't really see a
reason for it. Because what Barsa are doing is they want to go back to the past. They are trying to dig up the --again.
And Xavi was an emblematic player of the - that bring --38 year old player now of the --. And this looking back to me is not going to bring them
Football evolves every year, it gets better every year and the way to improve the - which dig themselves out of this hole. They have to identify
what the best football is being played now. Well, let's copy that. Let's go and learn from that.
If Manchester City and Bayern Munich, for example, are leading the game, let's study what they're doing. Barcelona doesn't have the best style
anymore. They still have very good youth academy.
Let's learn from the best and try and hire people, coaches, assistant coaches, physios, everyone from the club's doing the best, and that's not
what they're doing. They're looking to the past and Xavi is an example of that.
ANDERSON: I got to go. But it's been great having you on and good luck with the book. As I say it's a terrific read. We'll have you back Sir, thank
Well, there are just five days left until Christmas and for many it is about the Carol's and the music coming up. Our next Grammy Award winning
singer Alicia Keys tells me her favorite Christmas songs to cover at home with the kids if you can guess what they are.
ANDERSON: If you are a regular viewer you will have seen me hosting this show from our broadcast hub at Expo 2020 in Dubai. The event is a major
connector particularly global music bringing together some of the world's biggest performers.
Well earlier this month Alicia Keys is the 15 time Grammy Award winning singer and musician released her eighth studio album at EXPO with a major
show underneath what was the glittering out waffle dome.
And I was lucky enough to get to that concert. And earlier before it I sat down to talk to her about her 20 year career and how she spends Christmas
with her family heavily. The dean household Christmas is quite festive, you know usually have a. Have a listen.
ALICIA KEYS, GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING MUSICIAN: The - Christmas is quite festive. You see have a lot of family, we love it. It's obviously it's
people that we haven't gotten to see a lot of times all year. We love to play loud music; we love to cook great food. We do these kinds of handmade
projects that everyone has to present.
ANDERSON: What's your favorite song to sing with the family? Who do you cover on Christmas Day?
KEYS: I really love chestnuts roasting on an open fire. That's a really good one. I love Oh, holy night. That's a really beautiful one. I love the
boys to men have this gorgeous Christmas album that I play every time.
And my other favorite pianists George Winston as one called December and I play it every year. That's my bang.
ANDERSON: Well, this is 20 years since you released your debut album.
KEYS: Songs in a minor. I mean, this has been a colossal career.
ANDERSON: If you look back and reflect on that last 20 years, what's it taught you, Alicia?
KEYS: I think the biggest thing that it taught me was and is not to doubt yourself. Don't forget what's special about you. Because I think sometimes
we can get to a place where we feel like other people know more. And we have to do what they say. Don't doubt yourself.
ANDERSON: You do so much more than music.
ANDERSON: You're an author of a book coming out in March.
ANDERSON: Girl on Fire.
ANDERSON: Tackles the issues of social and racial injustice, just tell me about that book, and what sort of message you want youngsters to take from
KEYS: And it is a young adult novel, but it's something that everyone can relate to. Lolo is the character's name. She is born and raised in
Brooklyn. And she actually discovers these powers that she never knew she had.
And she discovers it because her brother was being assaulted in a way that she had to save him. It's definitely a metaphor to a lot of what we've even
just talked about in this interview about not doubting yourself about finding who you are.
We all have powers, how are we going to use them? What are we going to use them for? What side are we going to choose? And so these are some of the
themes that come up in the book. It's super relatable. It's really, really incredible. I think it really shows the face of life and all of its
diversity, which is what we're all looking for. I think this the wide range and it's fire.
ANDERSON: What's a state of America stay with regard social and racial justice?
KEYS: You know I think we all know that America is troubled and it was -- it's always been built on inequity and institutionalized racism. And, and unfortunately, that is something that is our entire problem. That's all of
That's all of what we have to pay attention to. So I think America is really finally coming to terms with these facts, so that we can actually
talk about them openly and talk about them with our children, and talk about how are we changing the education system. And what are we teaching in
history? And what does history mean? And where do we want it to go? And how can we change what we know has really always needed to be reinvented.
ANDERSON: As you use Instagram Live to talk to fans calling it a best friend therapy session, just explain how you're using social media to
connect with your fans? And whoever it is around the world?
KEYS: I really do enjoy connecting with people I do. It's one of my favorite things to do. I love to talk to people I love to hear from them. I
like to do it in person and now I like to do it even on IG live.
So we connect and I'll ask people what are they going through maybe they just want to share a song maybe they want to share how they play the
guitar. Maybe they have something they're dealing with. And then they share and we talk about it I mean, I'm not an expert, but I'm an expert friend.
A lot of us are feeling really isolated, a lot of us are feeling you know, a dark time during the holidays is often very hard for people and so I feel
like bringing some of that good energy and a light is my thing.
ANDERSON: Resolution for 2022?
KEYS: Just to continue to be unlocked continue to be unbridled, continue to dream bigger than I ever have before. Bring forth manifest all the ideas
and all the possibilities. I feel I feel grateful. I feel so blessed. I feel so excited. And I feel good.
ANDERSON: A super former and a super woman. I'm Becky Anderson that was "Connect the World". Thank you for joining us wherever you are watching in
the world. "One World" with Zain Asher is up next.