Ramón Calderón has resigned as president of Real Madrid. The 57-year-old, who took over at the club after winning contested elections in the summer of 2006, announced his decision at a board meeting. The decision comes in the light of a corruption scandal uncovered by the sports daily Marca and was formally confirmed at a press conference held at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Calderón once again rejected claims of his involvement in the scandal, insisting he walks away from the club with a “clear conscience”. “I have nothing to hide,” he said. “I firmly deny all the lies that have been published by various media sources in the past few days. I never participated in anything illegal or committed any wrongdoing … I may have committed mistakes but never irregularities.
“Over the past two-and-a-half years I have put my body and soul into this club. I walk away with clean hands and a clear conscience, and less money and health than when I started.”
Calderón will be replaced by the vice-president Vicente Boluda, with elections set to be called for the summer, 12 months ahead of schedule. Cristiano Ronaldo’s name is sure to be mentioned once again in the Spanish capital as candidates look to out-do each other with promises of signings. Calderón’s failure to secure the signature of Manchester United’s winger was a key reason for his unpopularity.
Marca alleged Calderón had sneaked a number of people into the club’s assembly of “compromisarios”, members with voice and vote, in December, during which his administration of the club over the past year was approved by a slim margin. Having announced that Real would launch an investigation, Marca named 10 men who had attended the assembly without fulfilling the criteria to be compromisarios. All 10 voted for Calderón.
The Real president had held a press conference on Wednesday, during which he sacked Luís Bárcena, the club’s director of “socios” (members). He also sacked a 25-year-old employee called Mariano Rodríguez de Barutell, known as “Nanín”. According to Calderón, Nanín had admitted that he sneaked the members in, but he was unable to explain why.
Calderón had said he would continue as president and that he knew nothing about the infiltration of fraudulent compromisarios. He also said that he did not know the men in question. But a second Marca follow-up showed photographs suggesting that at least four were close friends of Calderón’s brother, Ignacio, and his son, Jaime. Nanín said he “only did what I was told to do by those above me”.
This was just the latest in a series of allegations made about the president. The difference this time was that evidence was presented to support the accusations.
Despite winning back-to-back titles, Calderón has not recovered from a number of broken promises. He came to power pledging to sign Arjen ¬Robben, Cesc Fábregas and Kaka. Only Robben arrived – a year late. Nor has Calderón been helped by his failure to sign Ronaldo. At the recent presentation of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar fans chanted “where is Ronaldo?”