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Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Calderon apologises for attack on players

MADRID, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has apologised for his outspoken criticisms of the club's players and fans made in a speech to university students on Tuesday.

'I want to apologise a thousand times to anyone that might have been offended,' Calderon told Real Madrid television. 'But I want people to know that everything I've done since I got here has been for the good of the club.'

His comments to a student conference at the Villanueva University Centre 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 when describing the Real Madrid dressing room.

'Real Madrid players never pay for anything. You have education and culture and that's something that they in general don't possess.'

Calderon also took a swipe at David 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 theatre. The people don't support the team, not like in Italy and England.'

Real issued a statement on their Web site saying 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.

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