Real Madrid and Marca on collision course. Yes, really.
The Spanish sports "newspaper" Marca published the following cover yesterday...
"President, in June it's either Mourinho or us.
The captains confirm to Florentino that the dressing room is united and tell him that important players will hand a transfer request if Mourinho stays next year.
The president took note. The team is convinced that their manager has finished his cycle in Real Madrid."
Tuesday, 1pm CET.
Florentino Pérez call a rare press conference. Everyone speculates whether he's going to fire Mourinho...
Instead, he categorically denies the whole story.
"Good morning. First off, thank you for being at this press conference here today.
Look, given the seriousness of what happened today I’ve broken my own rule about not speaking about day-to-day team business. For the record, it is absolutely false that any kind of ultimatum was discussed regarding the coach or anything similar at the lunch we had with the captains last Tuesday.
As you all know, we usually have lunch in January with the two captains and the general manager in order to set the bonuses for the different competitions of the season. The meeting was held as usual in a relaxed atmosphere with a responsible attitude on the part of the captains.
What has been reported is untrue, neither the content nor the quantities of what was discussed. And I want to reiterate that I have a lot of respect for the press and I take, of course, criticisms although they might be objectively unfair or seem so to me. I think that I’ve demonstrated my ability to withstand the repeated insults that attempt to control the path of this club over the years. But I think there are ethical boundaries that must be respected, even by those that don’t share our project.
There were four people at the meeting. I want to say that no one has called me; no one called the general director, who is here today, nor the captains, and I’ve just spoken with Sergio Ramos who has talked with Iker Casillas. None of us have been called to check the truth of what was said or to get our version of the story, at least, and I think that’s very serious. I even understand that someone might want someone else to leave the club, I don’t care if it’s the coach or the president. But to resort to lies to destabilize the club and the team to make that happen, even when we win and secure our place in the Copa del Rey semifinals, I say publicly that it seems unethical to me. These types of things have happened repeatedly, but they’re not going to happen again.
Beyond it being in the interests of some, I want to make it very clear that the allegations are simply a lie. During this brief statement I also want to remind the members and fans about our unity, which has made us into the best club in the world. We’re the only ones that decide the future of our club.
Thank you for being here."
Despite the fact that Pérez allowed a Q&A after the press conference - making it clear from the get-go that the questions should be strictly about the matter in discussion - no Marca representatives asked any question whatsoever nor did they contest the veracity of Pérez's allegations.
Following their president's press conference, Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos also issued an oficial statement:
"Due to current reports in the media Real Madrid’s captains would like to communicate the following:
1. That in the meeting held on Tuesday with the club’s President and Director General there was no ultimatum from us regarding our coach.
2. As squad captains and members of an excellent group of people and professionals we categorically reject the use of our names or any of the rest of our squad in support of any such information that we label in its entirety as false.
3. We want to show our support for our coach, José Mourinho, for whom we have the greatest respect.
4. Finally, we wish to convey to all Real Madrid club members and followers our unwavering conviction that only through the unity of everyone connected with Real Madrid will we overcome, as always, all of the challenges that we face each season.
Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos"
Fast forward to today. Here is what Marca chose to publish in today's cover...
"Marca doesn't lie.
Marca stands by the information published yesterday and attacked by Florentino Pérez during an unusual public appearance. Out of respect for our readers we publish extracts of only two of the text messages sent by people within the club which prove the truthfulness of what we revealed, which were then backed by various sources."
This is then followed by what is seemingly a whatsapp conversation on an iPhone:
"They say even ___* will leave if ___** stays"
"Not only ___ I'm telling you there's many more"
"What was discussed?"
"Everything was discussed... ___, dressing room, manager, rewards and whatnot"
* - names and hours erased
** - in reference to Mourinho
No official word from Real Madrid today (as far as I'm aware).
Neverming who's telling the truth, this really is an all-time low for journalism in Spain. Following El País' cover controversy a few days ago regarding the fake photo depicting Chávez in a hospital bed, now Marca resorts to publishing text messages on its cover and claiming "they don't lie"; really? Marca representatives were at the press conference; why didn't they ask Pérez any questions then? Why didn't they confront him with the evidence they supposedly have then? When someone calls me a liar to my face, I'll retort; why did they keep quiet? This is simply cowardly tabloid "journalism" at its best.
Some English sources here and here.