January 21, 2007 / 4:00 PM / 12 years ago

Real chief hits out at players, fans and Beckham

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon criticized the club’s players and its fans and said David Beckham was going to Hollywood to be “half a film star” in a speech to university students on Tuesday.

Ramon Calderon, the new president of Real Madrid soccer club, speaks during his swearing-in ceremony at Santiago Bernabeu stadium July 3, 2006 file photo. Calderon criticized the club's players and its fans and said David Beckham was going to Hollywood to be "half a film star" in a speech to university students on Tuesday.REUTERS/Sergio Perez

His comments at the Villanueva University Center were recorded without the knowledge of Real Madrid and later aired on national radio.

“There is vanity, egoism and they all think they are superstars,” Calderon told the students.

“Real Madrid players never pay for anything. You (students) have education and culture and that’s something that they in general don’t possess.”

Calderon took a swipe at Beckham’s decision to leave Real and sign a five-year deal worth $250 million for MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy.

“He’s going to Hollywood to be half a film star,” he said. “Our technical staff were right not to extend his contract and that has been proved by the fact that no other technical staff in the world wanted him except Los Angeles.”

Calderon also went on to accuse former club president Florentino Perez of deliberately sabotaging his attempt to sign AC Milan’s Brazilian midfielder Kaka in the close season.

“Perez hasn’t exactly given me any support,” he said. “He spoke with (AC Milan president) Silvio Berlusconi so that he would renew Kaka’s contract and Berlusconi pressured him to sign.”

Calderon added: “If I am still president in June it is very likely that Kaka will be joining us.”

Perez issued a denial of the accusations, saying he had been forced to break his recent silence because of the “magnitude of Calderon’s lie”.

“It is totally false that I spoke to Silvio Berlusconi about Kaka or any other player,” the construction magnate said in a statement. “The whole suggestion is rather infantile.”

The club’s fans did not escape Calderon’s ire with the Real chief saying that the Bernabeu faithful were too hard to please.

“It’s a stadium where people go as if they were going to the theater. The people don’t support the team, not like in Italy and England.”

Real issued a statement on their Web site www.realmadrid.com saying that they were surprised and disappointed that Calderon’s comments had been recorded and played on national radio.

“The president was only trying to help students understand the importance of management in a business as big as that of Real Madrid,” the club said.

Calderon was named Real Madrid president last July after a narrow victory in a controversial election in which the postal votes of club members were not counted because of possible irregularities.

A judge is due to make a ruling on the validity of the votes at the end of January. If they are counted Calderon could find himself replaced as president by one of his rivals.

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