x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Internal turmoil rocks Madrid

Real Madrid are gunning for a fourth straight Primera Liga victory against the bottom club Osasuna on Sunday night.

Ramon Calderon, right, embraces the vice president Vicente Boluda, who now takes charge of the club, at the end of a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu on Friday.
Ramon Calderon, right, embraces the vice president Vicente Boluda, who now takes charge of the club, at the end of a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu on Friday.

Real Madrid are gunning for a fourth straight Primera Liga victory against the bottom club Osasuna on Sunday night. The Spanish champions have risen to second and will be hoping events in the Bernabéu distract from the scandal which has enveloped the club. Things came to a head on Friday when the club's president, Ramon Calderon, resigned following allegations of vote-rigging.

Calderon won the presidential elections in 2006, announcing his intention to bring Kaka, Cesc Fabregas and Arjen Robben to the club. Only Robben arrived, but the promises were forgotten as Madrid won back-to-back championships in 2007 and 2008. Pressure began to build on the 57-year-old lawyer following Madrid's failure to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and the poor form of the team at the start of this season which led to the November dismissal of coach Bernd Schuster.

The heat was turned up when the usually pro-Madrid newspaper Marca alleged that Calderon manipulated a general assembly vote - effectively a vote of confidence - in December. On Wednesday night, Calderon gave a 70 minute press conference in which he claimed that he had done nothing wrong and would stay as president until the summer. Two days later he resigned. Later, he gave a tearful speech in which he denied the claims against him.

Calderon will be replaced by the vice president Vicente Boluda, with elections set to be called for the summer. Former president Florentino Perez, the man responsible for the "galacticos" era where David Beckham, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Brazil's Ronaldo were lured to the club, is likely to stand in those elections. But first Madrid will focus on Osasuna. "We are on a good run and the controversy is not welcome," said veteran defender Michel Salgado. "We are trying to isolate ourselves from it all."

amitten@thenational.ae