Will Marca force Ramon Calderon to resign?

Marca editor Eduardo Inda must have been a trifle tense on Monday night.

And this had little to do with the fact that Captain Fantastic (Raúl) didn't exactly feature heavily in the FIFA World Player awards – making Tuesday’s copy a trifle tricky.

Instead, Inda had to display his publishing balls and give the thumbs-up to a story that could spell the beginning of the end for Real Madrid’s president.

Either that, or it will see his paper being sued into oblivion by the Bernabeu boss.

Because La Liga Loca has no desire to join the turncoat tome in its potential demise, it will do nothing more than repeat the allegations made in Tuesday’s extraordinary edition of Marca – accusations that almost made the blog drop its bacon sandwich at the kiosk. If it had been carrying a bacon sandwich at the time, that is.

Calderon and King peruse the papers

“Calderón stole the Assembly,” blasted Marca’s headline, in reference to December 7's gathering of compromisarios (club members possessing voting rights).

“The presidential team snuck through people who did not have the right to vote to approve the accounts,” claims the paper.

Marca is reporting that Calderón and members of the team that helped win him Madrid’s presidential election in 2006 rigged the Assembly vote – a poll concerning matters such as the approval of the club’s accounts and budgets.

The sports daily claims that this was achieved by filling the hall with fake compromisarios whose membership had expired or who did not have enough tenure to legally fulfil the role. Falsified accreditation was then arranged for these apparent intruders, alleges the paper.

These extra bodies at the presidential poll were enough to have the business of the day passed, claims Marca, which also accuses the compromisarios of intimidating the real members who opposed Ramón Calderón during the tempestuous session.

However, a better job of this was perhaps done by Madrid’s Ultras, who gained access to the session and screamed ‘Anti-Madridista sons of bitches’ at the members gathered below.

The club addressed Marca's allegations via Luis Bárcena, Director General of the club's social area. "My first decision was to control access to the Assembly by making Members present their ID cards at the entrance of IFEMA's Palacio de Congresos," said Bárcena. "I did this in order to add transparency to the Assembly. It was an historic decision, given that nothing of the sort had ever been done.

"The second and final thing I'd like to say is in regard to those people who supposedly infiltrated themselves in the Assembly with the purpose of destabilising it. We have decided to investigate on the matter and we have asked the club's Commission for Social Discipline to confirm these facts and, in the case of finding any club members implicated, to immediately expel them from the club."

At worst, the story will not be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Calderón, but the scandal that sees it pulverised.

Over recent months, the Madrid president has had to fend off allegations of rigging the club’s membership waiting list and using official credit cards for personal expenses. And over the past few days, he has faced accusations of corruption over transfer commissions.

Over the weekend, an interview was published with an ex-employee, Cristina Bermúdez Powell, in Interviú magazine - a publication that is taken fairly seriously in Spain despite every issue's cover featuring a nudey Big Brother contestant.

Bermúdez worked at the club until December 2006 in the capacity of secretary to the corporate director general, mainly during the Florentino Perez era, but also for six months of Calderón’s reign.

Bermúdez's main accusation – which dominated Monday’s TV news in Spain – is that Ruud van Nistelrooy was presented as a Madrid player before a contract had been signed.

This was due to a hold-up, she claims, after sporting director Pedja Mijatovic’s assistant Carlos Bucero wrote an e-mail claiming that an extra 300,000 Euros was needed in commission before the deal could go through.

“I don’t know if it was shared between Bucero, Mijatovic and Calderón,” claimed Bermúdez, on the alleged extra cash.

She also claims that Real Madrid turned down the chance to buy Gonzalo Higuaín in September 2006 for seven million Euros, only to sign the Argentine striker the following January for around 20 million Euros.

And Bermúdez claims it was a similar situation for Fernando Gago – a midfielder who “went from the five million he was worth in September 2006 to the 20 million Madrid paid at the end of the year.”

"Where is everyone?"

Madrid responded with an official communication denying that the events took place, arguing that Bermúdez has no credibility as she was involved in the vote-rigging that so tainted the presidential poll in the summer of 2006 and has involved a police investigation, and announcing that the club would be taking legal action.

If Interviú are to have their day in court with Calderón, then the magazine could be side-by-side with Marca, which has used Tuesday’s editorial to call on the immediate resignation of the Madrid president.

The paper argues that the scandal is just the latest in a long list of disasters for the Bernabeu bigwig: “the Champions League farce... the closed-doors presentation of Lass, the Ultras in the Assembly, the resignation of [youth scheme director] Michel, the sacking of Schuster, the insane Galactic bonuses, the failed attempts to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Villa, Cazorla...”

For years, Madrid has relied on the national sporting press to win and maintain fan base support. On Tuesday, Madrid learned what it feels like when that backing runs out.

Calderón has claimed for some time that there are those in the press out to bring him down - sections of the media that may be backed by his potential presidential opposition.

He may be right in his theories. Nevertheless, if the accusations published in Tuesday’s Marca are true then it is hard to see how Calderón can possibly remain in charge of what is supposedly the biggest club in the world. 


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