Saturday, January 17, 2009

Calderon-Gate & What Lies Thereafter

Posted by: Midhun Mohandas, India.

The inevitable finally happened. Ramón Calderón resigned as the club president on July 16th after reports that he had rigged the recent general assembly came out. Calderon and controversies go hand-in-hand, so it was not a surprise that the most unpopular president the club had in recent times, for both supporters and rivals alike, had to go in such a manner. Most of the Madridistas didn’t consider him as their president mainly because he never had the support of the majority.

Calderón laid the foundation of his imperium with a series of lies. He promised the socios that he had contracts signed with Kaka, Robben and Cesc Fabregas and has spoken to their respective clubs, and even had the audacity to claim that he would pass on the contracts to the new president even if he fails in the elections. This was later proved to be the first of the several bold faced lies that Madridismos would hear from their big-mouthed president. In January 2007, he was caught on tape making several unflattering comments about his players, and later had to apologize to the entire squad. He sacked Fabio Capello with in days after Madrid won its first major title in four years. Calderón always said that he wouldn’t interfere in Sporting matters, but he went ahead with his plan to sack the Italian tactician against Sporting Director, Pedja Mijatovic’s will. In March 2008, Calderon was accused of nepotism in selling season tickets by a reputed Spanish journalist. He was found using the club’s credit card for personal reasons which only added insult to the injury. Ronaldo-gate was another embarrassing incident during his tenure. He promised the fans that the club will be able to lure the Portuguese winger in the summer, but failed to get him despite the player expressing his wish to play for the Spanish giants on various occasions.

The club's image was tarnished further when Marca reported that the management was unaware of the UEFA rules which allow them to register either Huntelaar or Diarra. Calderon tried to wash his hands off this latest controversy by blaming the club’s legal adviser for this goof up.

The General Assembly held in early December exposed the dark side of Calderon furthermore which eventually led to his downfall. He turned off the microphones when some socios started to question him. Ultras Sur were present at the assembly (normally only members are allowed) and they began to jeer the socios who tried to speak against Calderon. Ultras are said to be hardcore supporters of Calderon since he's 'too soft' on them. But his fate was decided when Marca came up with irrefutable evidence which showed many of those who voted in favor of Calderon were non-members which included a Atletico fan and his own sibling. Calderon tried to save his face by sacking Mariano Rodríguez and Luis Barcena, who was supposedly in charge of organizing the event. But the ploy backfired when Mariano revealed that he worked under the instructions of Calderon and the president was forced to resign after the board meeting on Friday.

Calderon has proven so many times that he’s a misfit for such a responsible post. He never took criticisms positively and acted weirdly many times. He ordered banners at the Bernabeu to be taken down in the middle of a game, simply because they criticized his administration. He didn’t allow fans to watch (Lassana) Diarra’s presentation because they voiced anti-Calderon chants during Huntelaar’s presentation. The way he reacted when Florentino posed with Zizou and Ronaldo after a charity match shows that he had no self-confidence in himself.

And if this was not enough, Calderon always harped about bringing back some of the 'values' that the club lost during Perez's era. I’ve always wondered what positive values has he brought back to Madrid? The cantera has been over-looked like never before which was not the case under the previous regime. In fact, Perez was mocked by critics for trying to build a team comprising of super stars and 'kids'. Calderon had the luxury of having some of the better players our cantera has produced in recent years which was not the case with Perez, and yet he signed players like Drenthe, Marcelo, Saviola ignoring players like Negredo, Arbeloa, Granero and Mata in the youth set up. So was making RM a laughing stock around the world the so called “value” he brought back?

Juan Villalonga , Eugenio Martinez Bravo from Plataforma Blanca and possibly Florentino Perez are mooted as the candidates for the next elections and I am sure some more will join the list soon. Lets hope whoever wins the elections does a better job than Calderon did in the last two and half years, and I bet that isn’t a tough benchmark to cross upon.

What do you think of the possible contenders for the job come July? Let us know.

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