Thu, Jan 18, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Calderon blasts `Hollywood' Becks

`EGOTISM AND VANITY' The Real president criticized the former England captain and several other players in a `private' speech made to students at a Spanish university

AP , MADRID

Ramon Calderon speaks after winning the Real Madrid presidential election in Madrid on July 2 last year.

PHOTO: AP

David Beckham was belittled by Real Madrid's president on Tuesday as a Hollywood movie-star hopeful spurned by most of the world's top soccer teams.

Team president Ramon Calderon, in comments expected to further sour relations between Beckham and the Spanish club, said the English midfielder joined the Los Angeles Galaxy because there were no other takers.

"The proof that our technical staff was correct not to retain him has been borne out by every other technical staff in the world not wanting him even though he was out of contract," Calderon said in speech to university students that was broadcast by Cadena COPE radio station on Tuesday.

He added: "David Beckham is going to be some sort of film actor living in Hollywood."

Beckham spokesman Simon Oliveira said he would not respond to the comments.

During his university visit, Calderon also criticized Madrid's players, who he said displayed "egotism and vanity."

"They all think they are superstars," he added.

The president singled out goalkeeper Iker Casillas for his US$11.6 million annual salary and midfielder Jose Maria Gutierrez for failing to capitalize on his ability -- as well as Madrid's fans for failing to get behind the team.

He also suggested former club president Florentino Perez deliberately frustrated a bid to sign AC Milan midfielder Kaka in the off season.

Apology

Calderon later apologized for his remarks.

"The first thing is to say I'm sorry, a thousand times sorry, to everyone to whom I have offended. Everything I have done at this club since I arrived at Real Madrid has been for the good of the club and my affection and my defense of the players will always be above anything else," he told the club's Web site.

"During the questions, it is true, I made a series of remarks which could have caused annoyance," he added.

Made public

In a statement on its Web site earlier on Tuesday, Madrid criticized Cadena COPE for making the comments public.

"Real Madrid wishes to express its surprise and indignation because a journalist from La COPE ... has violated the intimacy of a private function which attempted to be academic in its content and nature, and has turned it into an act of disloyalty and disrespect toward the university, the students present and the good faith of the president," the team said.

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