Angel Maria Villar, the man with the power
Angel Maria Villar, president of the Spanish RFEF, can virtually do whatever he wants. Despite sacking his General Secretary due to a supposed lack of loyalty or regularly organising unwelcome international friendlies in mid-August, Villar was recently re-elected for the seventh consecutive term with around 80% of votes.
Just an example: Angel Maria Villar has recently announced that Jose Mourinho's eye-poking incident with Tito Vilanova will go unpunished and there's nothing Barcelona can do about it but complain to the media. Can you think of any other competition that would allow a manager to physically attack another professional and get away with it? Of course not!
The bottom line here is that, I believe, had it been Pep Guardiola who attacked Real Madrid's assistant, things would have probably been quite different. But I guess we'll never know.
Florentino Perez, the money man
Florentino Perez spent over €400 million to build a team full of Galacticos during his first stint as Real Madrid president (2000-06). Players such as Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham or former Barcelona captain Luis Figo certainly didn't sign for free but, surprisingly, Perez announced he had cleared the club's debt in the process - He was later found to off the mark and ended up resigning from his post.
After a couple of years away, Florentino Perez returned to El Bernabeu and used over €350 million to build a team which has won one Liga and one Copa Del Rey in three seasons. Los Blancos have spent €96 million on Cristiano Ronaldo, €64 million Kaka and €30 million on Coentrao, to name a few.
Real Madrid has spent over €1000 million in signings since the year 2000. Considering how weak the Spanish economy is at this moment in time, that certainly sounds like an extortionate amount of money, right?
The New York Times recently reported: 'Grupo A.C.S. (construction company presided by Florentino Perez) is in the midst of a frantic campaign to sell off assets, pay down their €9 BILLION debt and further distance itself from a Spanish economy caught in a spiral of austerity and deflation' - Very interesting information indeed...
Barcelona have been way more successful in recent times but simply can't compete with Los Blancos when it comes to spending. Did I miss something here? Where does all that Real Madrid money come from? Is it simply TV rights and merchandising? How have Los Blancos managed to be the only team in La Liga without debt?
I guess that, at least for now, we will just have to admit that Florentino Perez is a genius when it comes to handling Real Madrid's finances.
Jose Mourinho, the man who nearly destroyed Spain
Jose Mourinho landed at Real Madrid in the summer of 2010 after Florentino Perez had become tired of watching Carles Puyol lift every title in world football. From the moment he arrived at El Bernabeu, the Portuguese was given total control of the club.
Jose Mourinho's no-nonsense approach fuelled sparks of physicality from his players, with Arbeloa, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso and, of course, Pepe throwing constant tackles to stop Barcelona from displaying their tiki-taka passing game whenever they faced each other.
Far from discouraging such defensive, aggressive style, Florentino Perez remained silent and witnessed how Jose Mourinho kept forgetting about Real Madrid's historical values.
I know the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid goes back many decades and there are many political elements involved but, honestly, I had never witnessed such hatred between players before. Players such as Raul, Di Stefano, Bakero, Guardiola or even Hierro and Stoichkov were angels compared.
The Madrid-based press also collaborated, regularly making up stories to question Barcelona's achievements and damaging our players' reputations.
What nobody seemed to remember in Madrid while they blindly supported Mourinho's approach is that most of those players are actually teammates with the Spanish national team. Unfortunately for them, they actually need the Barcelona players every 2 years if the want Spain to win anything at international level.
After the ferocious El Clasico battles back in 2011, Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernandez had to work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure Barcelona and Real Madrid players showed each other a fair degree of respect and work together. Jose Mourinho's mentality had managed to break friendships that had been formed many years before his arrival.
After the resounding success of Spain in the Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 tournaments, many fans around the world agree that the current La Roja is the best national team to ever play the game of football - Despite Jose Mourinho, that is.
Sanchez Arminio, the man who runs the referees
Sánchez Arminio has been the president of the Spanish Association of Referees since 1993. The 70 year-old has the ultimate power on whether to investigate incidents or not, overruling the game official if necessary.
In recent times, Sánchez Arminio has managed to overlook Iker Casillas reportedly insulting the referee after the Copa Del Rey semi-finals, Jose Mourinho verbally abusing him again at the Camp Nou parking, Pepe's infamous step on Messi's hand and, I believe, has surely helped to ensure Angel Maria Villar forgave the Real Madrid coach after the eye-poking incident.
Despite all of the above though, he explained the following after Gerard Pique was sent off after complaining to the referee at half-time during the Sporting Gijon match: “I am angry because Pique doubts the honesty of Spanish referees. I am very hurt. What he said is bad sportsmanship, not positive for football.”
Funny how Gerard Pique ended up serving a longer ban that all Mourinho, Casillas and Pepe altogether!
Jaume Roures, the man who makes rich clubs richer
Jaume Roures is the head of MediaPro, the company who manages TV rights in Spanish football. At this moment in time, Barcelona and Real Madrid share 35% of the total revenue, meaning that each of the Top 2 teams receives a massive €140 million per year from the broadcasting giant. Valencia and Atletico Madrid each get €44 million with the other 16 teams in the Primera Division left to share the rest.
With clubs such as Real Sociedad only getting €12 million per season, it can't be a surprise to see how Barcelona and Real Madrid have consistently finished 30 points ahead of the 3rd placed team year after year. Yes, it can be argued that fans are much more interested in watching El Clasico than the relegation battle but, considering the so-called minor teams will never be able to keep their best players due to their lack of economic power, the competition as a whole risks becoming a predictable, vicious circle.
José María del Nido, famously outspoken Sevilla president, explained: “The unequal, unfair and outrageous system of distributing the financial rights favours Real Madrid and Barcelona year after year, to the detriment of the rest. It is a Third World league in which two clubs subtract the television money from the rest of us who are competing”
I am increasingly concerned that, unless the broadcasting revenue can be distributed more equally, the overall quality and appeal of the Spanish Liga will decrease, making fans lose interest in a predictable two-horse race.
Have Your Say
What did you think of this article?
Was Angel Maria Villar right to lift Jose Mourinho's ban?
How does Florentino Perez manage to afford so many expensive players each summer?
Is Jose Mourinho's influence beneficial for Spanish football as a whole?
How do you feel about the obvious dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga?
Did I miss out on any important points you would like to share with us?
I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.
Posted by: Francesc Tomàs
Founder and columnist at www.barcablog.com
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