Sun, Jan 18, 2009 - Page 20 News List

LFP: Vote-rigging allegations force Calderon out of Real

AFP , MADRID

Former president of Real Madrid Ramon Calderon, right, embraces vice president Vicente Boluda Fos, who is now in charge of the club, at the end of a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon, who controversially tried to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, resigned on Friday following allegations that he rigged voting at the club’s last annual general assembly, which approved its financial accounts.

But the 57-year-old lawyer, whose four-year mandate was set to expire in 2010, said he was leaving with his conscience clear.

“I am leaving with my hands clean and my conscience clear, with a lot less money and health than when I took up my mandate in 2006,” an emotional Calderon said.

He said that he hoped his resignation would “pacify” the tense atmosphere that has engulfed the club, but added that he had been proud to have officiated “the greatest club in the world.”

“I believe equally sincerely ... that it’s a triumph for injustice and spitefulness. I committed mistakes, never irregularities,” he said.

Vice president Vicente Boluda Fos will take over as caretaker president until fresh elections are held in June.

Calderon, who broke down in tears at the news conference called to announce his resignation, said he had taken his decision against the advice of his colleagues. He has been under pressure since sports daily Marca alleged on Tuesday that he stacked a Dec. 7 annual general assembly with fake delegates to get the club’s annual accounts for last year and its budget for this year approved by a slim margin. He fired two club officials over the affair on Wednesday, but he rejected calls at that time 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.

Calderon has fallen out of favor with many Real supporters because of 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. The crisis over the general assembly comes as Real have started to improve 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 today.

Real Madrid were the world’s largest revenue-generating club for the third successive season in the 2006-2007 season, an annual ranking compiled by business advisory firm Deloitte showed. The reigning Spanish champions overtook Manchester United as the biggest soccer club by revenue in the 2004-2005 season after a policy of signing big names such as David Beckham and Luis Figo led to a surge in sales of replica shirts and other items.

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