Ronaldinho's doubts and death threats

Most Primera club presidents carry chips on their shoulders the size of Strasbourg. They are some of the paranoid men on the planet, primed to come over all Kenneth Williams and declare, "infamy, infamy, they've all got in for me", at any perceived slight from those nominally in charge of the game in Spain. And considering those pulling the footballing strings in La Liga are often men of a certain age with generations old axes to grind or bury in each other's spines, some of them may have a point. On Monday, Zaragoza boss - and the meanest looking mutha in the game - Eduardo Bandrés, decided to discount his alarming turnover in coaches as the cause for his club's troubles this season and blame referees. "You can't cry to mummy about it," he whined, "sometimes the only way of being heard is to give a thump on the table", or complain endlessly in the press, perhaps. But this whinge was topped - and then some - by the rant from Betis puppet president, José Léon, who donned a silver foil beanie hat and went before the media, on Tuesday, to declare that the LFP boss, Angel Villar "wants to send us to the second division". The reason for this pique of paranoia is the decision taken by the league competition committee on what to do with the suspended Betis v Athletic Bilbao game from Saturday night. The organisation have decided to award the 2-1 win to Athletic, taking into consideration that there was only 19 minutes of the game left to play and the visitors were down to ten men with no substitutes left. Betis have been ordered to close the de Lopera stadium for two matches - a punishment that would have been four had it not been for the actions of home fans in apprehending the culprit. Marca agree with the decision admitting it is a harsh punishment on the remaining 40,000 fans but argue that a club is responsible for what happens in their ground. Betis, meanwhile, continue to feel that having Javier Tebas, "an intimate enemy of Villar", says Marca, as their representative in the league is the reason for the strong action. Athletic Bilbao, aside from having their first two keepers out of action, are pleased as punch with the arbitration which moves them into 10th at the expense of Valencia. "Justice has been done", confirmed Fernando García Macua, president of the Basque club. There is still trouble at t'mill in the Kingdom of Catalunya concerning the declaration by Barça's medical staff that there is nothing wrong with Ronaldinho. El Pais report that the striker has declared that he wants to play Thursday's cup tie against Valencia, "with or without problems". Only 40% of Sport readers agree, in their latest on-line poll. Sunday's edition of El Periódico wrote that Ronaldinho was out disco-dancing, last Wednesday night, and was in no fit state to train the following day, hence Frank Rijkaard's cover story that the fallen star was injured. Mundo Deportivo have gone a step further and risked annihilation by Joan Laporta's android army by declaring that this is just one of many occasions when the players aren't injured, but fancy a break and get a sickie - a policy that the coach is complicit in, apparently. "The most guilty in these episodes that are so common in the dressing room is Rijkaard", j'accuse's the Barcelona sports daily. Marca are continuing to hound Diego until either he or one of his family admit that he is desperate for a move to Madrid in the summer. Having failed with his father, a lacky has been sent to Bremen to track down the striker, but all the Brazilian would say is that "what's been published is a lie. I've not signed for another club". If Real Madrid are to lure Diego to the Spanish capital they are going to have call in Predrag Mijatovic's black ops wet work team to do so, it would appear. "If someone wants to buy Diego, they have to kill me first", warned Werder Bremen president, Jurgen Born.

On to actual football and Racing Santander are attempting to overturn Getafe's 3-1 lead in Sardinero in the Copa del Rey semi-final. But cool-as-cucumber blues boss Michael Laudrup is unconcerned that the Cantabrian stadium will be turned into a footballing hell by the home support. "Hell is to go to Greece or Turkey and playing in front of 80,000 fans in the stands and with 20,000 singing all night by your hotel", said the great Dane.