Thu, Jan 15, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Real open inquiry into ‘manipulation’ at general meeting


Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon, right, shakes hands with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar at the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on Dec. 4.


Real Madrid will open a probe into press reports that club president Ramon Calderon manipulated last month’s stormy annual general assembly vote in order to get its fiscal accounts for last year and this year approved.

“We have decided to investigate the matter and we have asked the club’s commission for social discipline to confirm these facts,” the defending Spanish champion’s director for members, Luis Barcena, told a news conference on Tuesday.

“In the case that any club members are found to implicated, they will immediately be expelled from the club,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday sports daily Marca, citing anonymous witnesses and sources which it said were “absolutely reliable”, said Calderon had stacked the Dec. 7 annual general assembly with a significant number of fake delegates in order to get the club’s fiscal accounts and electoral assembly members approved.

The accounts for fiscal year 2009, which forecast a 9.4 percent rise in sales over the previous year to a record 400.2 million euros (US$536.3 million), were approved with 564 votes in favor, 517 against and 32 abstentions.

The accounts for fiscal year 2008 were approved by only a slightly larger margin at the assembly, which was marked by jeering directed at Calderon as well as calls for him to resign over the club’s poor performance this season.

Barcena said access to the assembly was strictly controlled as members had to present their ID cards to enter the conference center where it was held.

“It was an historic decision, given that nothing of the sort had ever been done,” he said, adding as the club’s director for members he is “solely” responsible for the outcome of the assembly.

At the time of the assembly Real were under fire from many of its supporters as a string of injuries to key players had left them trailing arch rivals Barcelona.

Calderon approved the firing of coaches Fabio Capello and Bernd Schuster, despite both leading the club to league titles, and he reportedly beat Juan Palacios in his original 2006 election because mailed-in ballots were not tallied.

Calderon has also been criticized for buying foreign players rather than promoting youth-team players, with nearly 300 million euros spent on foreign imports since he took office.

The recent signings of midfielder Lassana Diarra and striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar also generated controversy.

They were mainly brought in to reinforce the squad for the Champions League but Madrid can field only one of the two players in Europe due to UEFA regulations.

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