Ramón Calderón has his day in court

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In general, La Liga Loca is not normally the jealous type.

But it must admit to being a tad envious of the easy-peasy world of Spanish sporting journalism, where libel law is scoffed at and how to make stuff up without a shred of evidence is a much-admired attribute.

It is a very different business in the no-fun, nitty-picky UK.

For example, La Liga Loca could tell you the completely true and well-known story in Spain of how *******  was caught ******* ** ***** *** * car bonnet and ******  ******* by   ******  ******** ***** ****.

But chances are some tea-spluttering lawyers will have removed most of the offending allegations, to avoid the risk of having the entire corporation bankrupted in biliseconds by a back-beeping dumper truck full of lawsuits.

Innocent until proven guilty is a completely alien concept for many sports dailies - especially when it comes to Marca and that moustache-twisting scoundrel, Ramón Calderón.

To set the legal record straight at the earliest opportunity, Thursday’s edition of the paper covers the day spent in court by the former Real Madrid president and a number of others ‘accused’ as the Spanish law defines them.

The still very not-guilty group had been summoned by judge Santiago Torres, who is investigating whether a crime was committed during the vote-rigging incidents of Real Madrid’s AGM last December and, if so, who was responsible.

As it stands, no-one has been found guilty of any wrongdoing, if any wrongdoing took place. And that is the way that most of the straight-laced sporting press, even Sport in Barcelona, are reporting the incident.

The main exception is Marca who’s current editorial policy is “Calderón bad! Florentino good!”

e“The cheats give evidence before a judge over Calderón’s ‘theft’” yells the paper’s inside page on Thursday.

Indeed, it was a very happy edition for Marca overall as it also got to report on the story of sporting director Pedja Mijatovic leaving the club after mutual agreement with Real Madrid’s board.

As the media were given access to the courtroom for Wednesday’s session, there is a great deal of reporting on the day’s events.

Who, me? 

And while there is no dispute over the fact that people who weren’t allowed to vote in December’s special members-only meeting did so, who instructed them and facilitated their entry is the main bone of contention.

Considering the penalty for those found guilty of any fraud could be a jail sentence of between six months and three years, no-one was ready to ‘fess up on the day.

Calderón himself spent an hour and 20 minutes before the judge testifying that he had delegated the entire organisation of the AGM to the VP of the members area, Amador Suárez, and two director generals, Miguel Angel Arroyo and Luis Bárcena, and had no involvement himself.

He also claimed that he had “a minimal relationship” with Nanín, another ‘accused’ up before the court and someone he publicly thanked for helping him get elected in 2006 and handed a job looking after VIPs in 2007.

After Calderón’s testimony his lawyer brother, Jorge Calderón, read a statement claiming that “I don’t think that a criminal act took place as we are talking about a sporting company.”

Luis Bárcena, who resigned over the incident soon after the allegations came to light back in January, also gave evidence but claimed that he was unaware of the presence of non-members in December’s session, report Marca.

The most fun to be had was hearing the testimony of five of the ‘infiltrators’ who were not entitled to be at the event, never mind vote in the session on matters such as the club’s accounts.

But four of the five say that they were there on the request of a certain Mariano Rodríguez de Barutell, more commonly known as Nanín.

“I know Nanín, he called us and asked us to come and support the president,” said Jorge Leal Hidalgo. “I’m a close friend of Nanín and he called me up to come and support Calderón,” claimed Miguel López Gil.

“I didn’t help anyone to get in (to the assembly) nor sneak anyone in. I didn’t know they were there,” said Nanín in his testimony.

After the day’s exciting events, a Judge Dredd-channelling Marca have certainly made up their mind over who the guilty parties are - evidence or no evidence - with Thursday’s editorial calling for Madrid  “to turn the page and look to the future to win back the club’s majesty as soon as possible.”

But there was to be some bad news for the sports daily that’s always keen to boast about their sales figures - the loss of one reader.

“I don’t buy nor read this newspaper. I have no intention of ever reading it again in my life,” said Ramon Calderón before judge Torres.

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