Florentino Perez’s disparaging comments about the good and the great of Real Madrid’s recent past have surprised no one in Spain.
The president and the club’s legends don’t get on, but everyone plays the game when it suits them and that is probably not going to change any time soon.
Perez calling Iker Casillas and Raul the two ‘great frauds’ of the club’s history in a private conversation 15 years ago will not shake the foundations because the players know very well what he thought of them at the time, having recently stood down as Real Madrid president.
Florentino Perez’s disparaging comments about Real Madrid greats have surprised no one
Iker Casillas (R) and Raul (L) knew what the club’s president thought of them at the time
In the recorded conversations Perez was speaking two months after he had quit after three trophyless seasons at the club.
In his resignation press conference in 2006 he had admitted ‘spoiling the players’ but as the audios reproduced by El Confidencial also illustrate, Perez retained affection and respect for his foreign imports (calling Beckham and Zidane ‘good guys’). It was the local lads he could not abide.
This has been reflected over the years by the way so many have left the club without the ceremony they felt they deserved.
Vicente del Bosque – the latest victim of the Florentino files (he calls him ‘zoquete’ which translates as ‘blockhead’) was fired in a corridor having just won the league in 2003.
Perez retained affection for his foreign imports, calling Beckham (R) and Zidane (L) ‘good guys’
The captain from that era, Fernando Hierro, was forced out the same summer with a farewell not befitting one of the club’s most decorated and admired leaders.
Raul went in similar fashion to Hierro having to wait three years for his farewell benefit game at the Bernabeu.
And Casillas gave a teary farewell press conference on his own when he left, so upset was he with his president. Only for another press conference, this time with Perez sat alongside him, hurriedly arranged for the following day to save face.
Sergio Ramos is the latest Spanish captain to leave Madrid on bad terms. First there was an offer, then, when it was finally accepted by Ramos, the club said it had expired and so off he went. Another legend gone.
‘He’s like a father/son to me’ was the stock quote from both Ramos and Perez over the years whenever a contract wrangle had been settled after lengthy disagreement and some flirting with Manchester United on Ramos’ part thrown in for good measure.
Former boss Vicente del Bosque was fired in a corridor having just won the league in 2003
The captain from that era, Fernando Hierro, was forced out the same summer as del Bosque
It always rang hollow – the ‘happy families’ image thinly veils the turmoil between Perez – who it should not be forgotten has changed the club’s statutes making it harder for anyone to replace him as president – and the players who, courtesy of their popularity with supporters, have, as Perez sees it, too much power.
The fact that none of this has prevented Raul, who is now B-team coach and Casillas, now vice-president of the club’s foundation, from returning, is a reminder of two things.
First, Raul and Casillas value their own futures at the club over and above speaking their mind regards their feelings towards Perez. They have been silent in the immediate aftermath of the audios being released and that seems significant.
And secondly, that for all of Perez’ negative opinions on the influence of Raul and Casillas he is happy for them both to be within the club. The show must go on and Perez is running the show until his next election in 2025. If he can surround himself with the club’s playing legends then he will do so.
Sergio Ramos is the latest Spanish captain to leave LaLiga giants Madrid on bad terms
Round two of the leaked tapes on Wednesday seemed tame in comparison with Perez having called Raul and Casillas frauds.
Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo will probably have little argument with Perez saying they both have huge egos and will probably have chuckled hearing Perez say that Jorge Mendes calls the shots with neither of them because they both do what they want.
Calling Ronaldo ‘sick’ appears to have been in reference to his fitness obsessions – again a comment unlikely to fluster the Portuguese who never got on with Perez when he was at the club.
Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo will probably have little argument with Perez saying they both have huge egos
Ramon Calderon did the deal to sign Ronaldo but Perez was president by the time it needed completing. Perez never saw him as his signing and the run-ins over the years reflected that. ‘If you want to go, then just make sure you bring me enough money to sign Messi’, he once told the player.
Perez’ claims that these conversations are coming to light now because of his failed Super League launch, were not being taken too seriously with most pundits struggling to join the dots. It also seems the threats of legal action will never be more than just a threat.
Professor of Law Emilio Cortez told Spanish radio Cope on Tuesday: ‘If the recording is made by someone who is forming part of the conversation then there is no crime even if the contents of the conversation are then made public without the other person’s consent.’
They will probably have chuckled hearing Perez say that Jorge Mendes (centre) calls the shots
That would cover the journalist who Real Madrid believe leaked the tapes having recorded Perez in a restaurant as the two conversed 15 years ago. Cortez added: ‘Another thing would be for the recording to be made by someone outside the conversation. By a waiter, for example, putting a hidden microphone near the table.’
The biggest point of debate on Spanish radio on Tuesday night was the journalistic merit of publishing the conversation that Madrid claimed in its statement the reporter in question had been ‘trying to sell for years’. Diario AS have since admitted refusing to publish the tapes when they were offered them in 2008.
One broadcaster mourned the breaking of an unwritten covenant lamenting: ‘How can we have off-the record conversations with players, directors and presidents after this?’
But off-the-record conversations will no doubt survive. And so will Perez. It remains to be seen if there will be any long-term effect on his relationships with the club legends Raul and Casillas. But they are likely to be unaffected, as least for as long as it’s in everyone’s interest for that to be the case.
Ramon Calderon did the deal to sign Ronaldo but Perez was president by the time it needed completing