Friday, January 16, 2009

High Comedy at the Bernabéu: Down Goes Calderon

Credit goes to the Spanish, who can often manage to raise ineptitude to the level of an artform. That's the lesson I took from George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia at least, and the same goes for the way they run their football teams.

Case in point: Ramon Calderon stepping down as chairman of Real Madrid. The final act that eventually brought down Calderon wasn't his failure to purchase Cristiano "Teletubby" Ronaldo (when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was presented, the fans reportedly chanted "Where is Ronaldo?".... ouch), or the fact that Real Madrid are trailing Barca by 12 points, or that the team has run through three managers in under a year. No, the act that Calderon engaged in is far more hilarious and far more humiliating. Find out the details after the jump....

As always, Sid Lowe is on the story. (Few things make me happier than his reports from Spain on the Guardian podcast, which I'll say yet again you need to be listening to regularly if you don't already.)

You have to remember that Real Madrid, like Barcelona and the Green Bay Packers, are owned by their fans and managed through quasi-democratic elections. The story of Calderon's eventual undoing begins with a vote last month among Real Madrid's 'compromisarios,' i.e. voting members. Calderon narrowly won the vote, which was taken by voice rather than by written ballot.

A few weeks pass, and then stories come out in the Spanish newspaper Marca that ten men had attended the meeting and voted, despite being ineligible to do so. On Wednesday, Calderon held a press conference in which he sacked the Real Madrid employees who were allegedly responsible for allowing the ten ineligible voters into the meeting. Calderon stated that he would stay on as president, and that he didn't know any of the men.

So far so good, except that Marca next reports that these ten people all had connections to Calderon: according to Sid Lowe, at least four were close friends of Calderon's brother, Ignacio, and his son, Jaime. And, to make matters worse, one of the employees who Calderon had fired gave an interview to Marca yesterday in which he insisted that he "only did what I was told to do by those above me".

Hence, Calderon stepping down today in ignominy and high comedy. Again, only the Spanish could manage something so utterly inept, trying to sneak your relatives into a vote of confidence and hoping that no one would notice. Calderon's reign at Real Madrid was marked by mediocrity and disappointments, but wouldn't you know that it was his utter stupidity that finally brought him down.


phil said...

I would have thought that hiring Juande Ramos would have been enough...

Keith said...