Real Madrid woes continue as Barca bask in final

By Duncan Shaw, Gaea News Network
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MADRID - The contrasting fortunes of Spanish twin giants Barcelona and Real Madrid could hardly have been clearer Wednesday.

While Barca were in Rome preparing for the Champions League final against holders Manchester United, Real were undergoing one of the most embarrassing epsodes in the club’s proud 107-year history.

Barca have put Real in the shade throughout the season, and inflicted a humiliating 6-2 defeat on their old rivals in Madrid three weeks ago.

Josep Guardiola’s sumptuous side were trying to become the first Spanish team to pull off the “treble” of league, cup and Champions League - something that not even the legendary Real side of the 1950s managed to achieve.

Back in Madrid, in contrast, Real’s legal and political nightmare continued.

On Wednesday a unit of the Spanish judicial police entered the Estadio Bernabeu with a search warrant from judge Santiago Torres, in order to check the club’s accounting books for the last three years. It is now clear how long the search will last.

“This is a very sad day indeed for Real Madrid,” commented sports radio station Radio Marca.

The Marca website, meanwhile, pointed out that “this is the most drastic measure taken by the judicial authorities” since neighbours Atletico Madrid were subjected to judicial intervention in 1999, during the controversial presidency of Jesus Gil.

Judge Torres has been investigating former Real president Ramon Calderon, along with his friends and family, for three months now, after several groups of irate club members have filed civil lawsuits against him.

Torres last week subjected Calderon to an intense interrogation, which apparently focused on the club’s annual general assembly in December and on certain alleged financial irregularities.

Torres has not discounted pressing criminal charges against Calderon, who resigned as president in disgrace in January.

Wednesday’s dramatic events are really the culmination of a three-year political and legal nightmare for Real, which started in February 2006 when Florentino Perez surprisingly resigned as president after his expensive “Galactico” team had collapsed into lethargy and failure.

The July 2006 elections, called to find a successor to Perez, saw Calderon achieve a narrow victory, amid allegations of vote-buying and other irregularities. The lawsuits filed by the defeated candidates dragged on through the civil courts for two years, weakening Calderon’s legitimacy and reputation.

Real won two Spanish Liga titles during Calderon’s reign but, unlike Barcelona, failed to make any impact in the Champions League.

In January 2009 Marca revealed that Calderon had arranged for fake delegates to be sneaked into the club’s annual general assembly in December, in order to have his proposed budget and other measures passed.

Calderon at first tried to ride out the storm but finally resigned, as Marca hinted at other irregularities during his presidency.

He handed over power to close friend Vicente Boluda, who called elections for June 14.

However, these elections will probably not take place because the only candidate who has been able to provide bank guarantees for 15 per cent of the club’s budget - a prerequisite for all candidates, according to the club’s statutes - is Perez, who will therefore probably be re-installed as president next week.

Perez, a construction billionaire, says that he regrets resigning in 2006, and has promised to resolve Real’s financial and legal problems.

He has also promised to build a new “Galactico” team - Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Franck Ribery, Xabi Alonso, David Silva and David Villa are rumoured to be on his wishlist - capable of ending Barca’s domestic domination.

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