Sat, Jan 17, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Real president to call early elections amid assembly row


Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon, accused of rigging the club’s last annual general assembly, may finally remain in his post until early elections in June, several Spanish newspapers reported yesterday.

Spanish media had reported late on Thursday that the 57-year-old lawyer would resign yesterday after sports daily Marca reported earlier this week that unauthorized people had voted during the club’s general assembly on Dec. 7.

The daily published a new picture on Thursday to back its claim that Calderon knew personally some of the unauthorized persons who voted at the assembly, a charge the Real president denied a day earlier at the news conference.

Calderon, whose four-year mandate expires next year, has denied any wrongdoing. The assembly voted by a small margin to approve the accounts of the club — the world’s richest soccer club — for last year and this year.

Sports daily AS reported yesterday that Calderon “has accepted announcing elections for June, but refuses to step down unless the management board forces him to do so,” while Marca said he had told the board that he would not “leave like a thief.”

Top-selling daily newspaper El Pais meanwhile said Calderon was struggling with the pressure and was hesitating between quiting and calling early elections.

Real’s management board was meeting yesterday morning at Calderon’s request and an announcement regarding his future at the club is expected after it wraps up.

On Wednesday Calderon said he had fired two of his close aides over the affair but he rejected calls that he step down, saying he had done nothing wrong.

“Quitting is for cowards. Leaving would not fix anything, it would leave a void and force the club to call elections,” he told a news conference.

The crisis over the general assembly comes as Real has started to close the gap with arch rivals Barcelona since Juande Ramos was made coach last month and are preparing to face Liverpool in the Champions League knockout stages next month and in March.

While the defending Spanish champions are in second place, they still trail the Catalan side in the Spanish league by 12 points.

Real face Osasuna at home tomorrow in the Spanish league.

Calderon has fallen out of favor with many Real supporters due to his failure to fulfill promises to bring Manchester United’s Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo and AC Milan’s Brazilian playmaker Kaka to the Spanish giants.

Earlier on Thursday, defender Javia Garcia assured reporters that the squad had not been affected by the controversy.

“I’ll be honest and will not lie. Nothing has been discussed in the locker room. We keep out of all that,” he told reporters on Thursday when asked if the issue had been discussed in the dressing room.

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