Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has responded to claims that he was secretly recorded calling Iker Casillas and Raul ‘frauds’.
Perez became Real president for the first time back in July 2000, and oversaw a stellar six-year spell that saw the team win two La Liga titles and the Champions League before announcing his resignation.
A leaked audio file has now been published during which the 74-year-old, who returned to Santiago Bernabeu for a second term in 2009, can allegedly be heard placing some of the blame for his original exit at the feet of two legendary Blancos players.
Raul left the Spanish giants in 2010 but is now serving as the head coach of their Castilla side, while Casillas departed the Bernabeu in 2015 before taking up a role in the Real Madrid foundation after hanging up his gloves.
Both men worked under Perez again upon his return to the club, but the president was scathing in his assessment of the pair in the 2006 recording that originally surfaced in El Confidencial on Tuesday.
“He is not good enough to be the goalkeeper for Real Madrid, what do you want me to say?” Perez reportedly says of Casillas in the audio. “He is not. And he never has been.
“It is the big mistake we made. They defend him so much. But, well, he is one of the big frauds of Madrid. The second is Raul. The two biggest frauds at Madrid are first Raul and then Casillas.
“[Zinedine] Zidane’s a great guy. And [David] Beckham and Ronaldo. … But then there are the others that think that … let’s see. Raul is a bad person.
“He thinks Madrid is his and he uses everything there is in Madrid, developing everything for his own benefit. Him and his agent. They are to blame for Madrid not doing well.
“Look, I left, among other reasons, because of him. He is a negative guy, he is destroying Madrid.”
Perez has now issued a statement via Real’s official website in response to the leak, claiming that his comments have been taken out of context and have only been reported now due to his involvement in the controversial Super League plans that sent shockwaves across the football world in April.
“Following the article published by El Confidencial that features comments that I have been credited as having made, I believe that it is important to clarify that the published quotes were part of conversations secretly recorded by Mr Jose Antonio Abellan, who has been trying to sell the recordings for many years without any success,” the Spaniard has said.
“I find it surprising that they have been published today by El Confidencial, despite the time that has elapsed. They are isolated quotes that were part of conversations and have been taken out of the wider context in which they were made.
“I understand that the fact that they have been published now, so many years on from the time the conversations took place, owes to my involvement as one of the driving forces behind the Super League.
“I have placed the matter in the hands of my lawyers, who are examining the course of action to be taken.”