Sandro Rosell, Barcelona president, has reignited the controversy that surrounded the La Liga campaign last season by explaining: ‘We all know that the last edition of the Spanish League was very strange’

Here is what Rosell actually means – Let’s analyze the behavior of 5 key names in Spanish football.

Angel Maria Villar, The Man With Limitless 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 organizing unwelcome ludicrous international friendlies in mid-August, Villar was recently reelected 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, had it been Pep Guardiola who attacked Real Madrid’s assistant, things would have probably been quite different – I guess we’ll never know. 

Florentino Perez, The Man Who Creates Millions Out Of Nowhere

Florentino Perez spent over 400M€ 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 be lying and ended up resigning from his post. 

After a couple of years away, Florentino Perez returned to El Bernabeu and used over 350M€ to build a team which has won 1 Liga and 1 Copa Del Rey in 3 seasons. Los Blancos have spent 96M€ on Cristiano Ronaldo, 64M€ on Kaka and 30M€ on Coentrao, to name a few. 

Fact: Real Madrid has spent over 1000M€ 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 euro 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 The Best Spain In History


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 violent behaviour 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 Owns 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’ insulting the referee after the Copa Del Rey semifinals, Jose Mourinho verbally abusing him again at the Camp Nou parking, Pepe‘s infamous step on Messi’s hand and 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 is doubting 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 a 35% of the total revenue, meaning that each of the Top 2 teams receives a massive 140M€ per year from the broadcasting giant. Valencia and Atletico Madrid each get 44M€, with the other 16 teams in the Primera Division left to share the rest. 

With clubs such as Real Sociedad only getting 12M€ 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 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 benficial 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. 

Força Barça!! 

Posted by: Francesc Tomàs

Founder and columnist at and ESPN Soccernet

 Join our 28,000 followers on Facebook or Twitter

17 Responses

  1. Sorry Francesc,so but this paragraph is biased. "Jose Mourinho's no-nonsense approach fuelled violent behaviour 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". You make it sound like they've set out to injure players, when really they're just closing down and being 100% committed,yes a few tackles where way too aggressive for the rules, but if we're exaggerating a team's style of play, i'll say 'Busquets, Pedro, Dani Alves, Sanchez and Villa spend more time rolling about on the floor, to actually playing the game' and 'Puyol, Xavi, Valdez, Busquets and Alves moan to the ref more than they play football'. Anyone can exaggerate anything, doesn't make it true. Also "Far from discouraging such defensive, aggressive style, Florentino Perez remained silent and witnessed how Jose Mourinho kept forgetting about Real Madrid's traditionally attacking football and historical values." From a neutral fan, I honestly mean to be as respectful to Barcelona, but correct me if i'm wrong, but this season; Madrid had more shots than Barca, scored more goals than Barcelona, created more chances than Barcelona and dribbled more. Don't get me wrong, for the last 4 years i have gone out my way to watch Barcelona from England, but it's starting to get silly. The possession Barca have seems to be priority over the performance they give their fans.
    But what do i know, other than that one bias section, nice post Francesc and i'll enjoy reading more.
    P.S. For any Barcelona fans who think i've been too harsh, maybe i have, but it needed to be said. I would like to know your opinions on the diving situation, as i for one find it embarrassing see. I'll be interested to hear from actual Barcelona fans. Just like toend on a positive… I would like to thank Barcelona for the football they've introduced to the world. Total football, and the best team to ever grace the game. Gracias Blaugrana.

  2. @anonymous above you are totally wrong ,if you can compare real madrid before the jose mo55rinho era its different from this one in past el clasicos were there eye poking incidents,players fighting,stamping on each other?the list goes and goes on.Who is the master mind of all these outrageous doings of course its mo5rinho with his obssesion to stop Barca(and he will never be able to do it).Barcelona players dont make the most of it ,its just because of the agressiveness of madrid remember the tackle marcelo did to fabregas in the spanish cup, is that sportmanship?I dont think so

    1. got to agree with the second anonymous. We arent talking about just agressiveness. They ve taken it to more than ' agressiveness'. And it isnt just one isolated incident , there are many instances. Pepe stamp on Messi, Mou on tito, C. Ronaldo on guardiola, etc surely had nothing to do with football

  3. got to agree with the second anonymous. We arent talking about just agressiveness. They ve taken it to more than ' agressiveness'. And it isnt just one isolated incident , there are many instances. Pepe stamp on Messi, Mou on tito, C. Ronaldo on guardiola, etc surely had nothing to do with football

  4. i dont think the insults were necessary for the neutral fan above. Just said his own view that is all

  5. Thank ya all for not saying anything about messi, have watched couple of games where Alves is been pulled down but will do all it takes not to go down……. Let's just be real, current madrid squad( presisent to player) are all shit

  6. A lip reader who watched Mourinho, read his lips to say 'I want Messi hurt'!
    Mourinho is a huge fan of his national team, Portugal! What would be great for them, create friction in the Spanish NT!! Remember the talk of Mourinho being close to getting rid of Iker because he and Xavi were working to keep the NT team mates friends!
    I Agree Barça do need to make more chances but that will happen a lot more when Villa comes back, Barca played the entire Liga season without an outright striker. Villa is a 20+ goals per season striker! All the names pointed out in this article favour Madrid! No wonder they won Liga with the support they have off the people who are suppose to make sure things are fair!
    What other league in the world would let a manager get away with an eye-gouge? This is an act that could blind a person!!!
    1st Anonymous , you say your a neutral fan but that does not reflect in anything you have said!
    I am a Barça fan and yes I don't like it when Busquets does his play acting but we see it in loads of games from all over the planet! The only person I can say who does their very best to stay on his feet is Leo Messi and I would say 'correct me if I'm wrong' but I know I'm not wrong at all!!!
    Madrid can do what they want and it will keep happening until these bias people are put in their place or relieved from duty, personally the latter is the best option for Spanish Football as a whole!
    I do agree that money needs to be shared out a bit more equally though! It would be nice to see other clubs challenging for top spot!

  7. – Yes I know some barca players dive but I am tired of ppl labelling the whole team as cheaters. If you watch football in general, you would notice everybody dives, sad to say but diving is part of the sport. My point here is show some fairness. I don't like the diving any more than you.
    – I really feel mourinho is getting away with a lot. Mourinho is a really smart man, he knew barca was a huge threat after that 5-0 loss in 2010 (which increased the intensity of the rivalries). He has let his emotions get in the way and shown he will do any at all cost. I have seen such brutal display and violence from this real madrid side….mourinho : we are always prepared to play with a man down (red card) – what kinda coach says that???

  8. What a 'neutral'! Yeah, Busquets and Pedro are divers. :] Once or twice per few months is so wrong, but others like Ronaldo, Dive Maria, Ozil, Callejon, Marcelo, Pepe, Coentrao, Arbeloa etc. can dive week by week and it's okay?

    Enjoy your cheap proaganda anywhere, but not here!

    When Alonso and Khedira dive it's also okay, but one dive by Pedro made him a diver, right? Alves and Sanchez do their 'best' sometimes, but they're not even close to such divers like Drogba, Suarez, A. Young, chi chi burrito etc.

  9. Dear all,

    Thanks for the feedback on the article and engaging and debating ideas.

    Please remember that any comments with insults or hate messages will be deleted.

    All respectful points of view are valid.

    Thank you

  10. As an Arsenal fan I have plenty of gripes with Barcelona, for starters the wound is still fresh from what is easily the silliest red card (to RVP at the Nou Camp) I have ever or will ever see.
    In addition, I think it is despicable how Xavi, Iniesta, Guardiola, Rossell and co tapped up Cesc Fabregas last summer.
    If they were good enough to win the league last season they would have done so, the truth is that Madrid were the better team.

  11. AS far as I know, Barca and Madrid's revenue streams are approximately the same. Given that, I have often wondered how Madrid are able to spend so much more in the transfer market than we do. In the past few years, Rosell has made a concerted effort to reduce our debt, something that we need to do. For us, La Masia is the way. Madrid can do what they like.

    As for Mourinho, I could write a whole article on what I think. Most of it would not be complementary. He may have won La Liga last year but even many Madidristas are concerned about how he did it and the effect on their club's reputation.

    One final question, was it a dive when Pepe nearly broke Alves's leg in that UCL semi?

  12. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Villar was elected with "help" from Barca, opposite to Gonzalez who was supported by Real Madrid (Barcagate). So why Villar didn't banned Mourinho for eye-pocking?

  13. Posted by andrew kiken 18 hours, 19 minutes ago
    EE were the better team throughout most of the year. We just needed them to lose a few games in a row, and the wheels would have likely fallen apart. But, they never did obviously. Barca almost made a comeback at the end, but the deficit was to much. Mourinho is surely one of the best coaches in the world with his success wherever he goes, but Pep is the perfect coach. Pep wins in a classy, but extremly competitive manner. To not lose less than a few games in a season in a low scoring sport is a real challenge. The margin for error is so small, and EE has almost caught up to our advantage which is a real challenge.
    For Mourinho for the eye poking and Pepe for the hand stomping to not be suspended is real third world country stuff. Players will hurt other players if their coaches tell them to do so especially if there are no punishments. If messi ever gets hurt god forbid, because of an ee player we need to make it war, literally.

    Posted by simon 16 hours, 39 minutes ago
    I absolutely love your picture of florentino and cristiano
    you know most 500E notes are couterfeited by the mafia? could be where hes' getting his millions.
    Barcelona is everything that the POWER ELITE in Madrid doesn't like, hence, of course everything will sway for the establishment club.
    It is rather third world. Good competition makes everyone better.
    Maybe in the old days the smaller clubs could keep their players but now money is the lifeblood of competitive football and needs to be redistributed as fairly as possible.
    RM and Barca will still have huge advantages but it is counterproductive to gain these at the expense of everyone else.
    Look at england where EVERY club believes that the equal distribution of TV rights is essential for the league's success. Clubs still have advantages but the competition is better than ever.

    Posted by Belgium 16 hours, 13 minutes ago
    It's true that they don't want barca to win. They try their best in every possible way te help Madrid. You wan't te know where they(real madrid) get their money from? A few years ago Real Madrid sold their training ground for 500 million euros to Madrid Regional Council. It's clearly that they sold the ground for a lot more then it's actually worth.

    Posted by Snoop Dogg 15 hours, 55 minutes ago
    1) The RVP red card was not Barcelona's fault. They are not in charge of who does and does not get carded. I agree it was harsh, but RVP got a yellow for a very nasty tackle in the first half which he clearly deserved. Then in the second half he did waste time – I know he said he didn't hear it, but he still committed the offense and gave grounds for his dismissal. A more absurd red was given to Thiago for Barca this season, for handball when there clearly wasn't any. Difference is we learned to move on, you didn't.
    2) "Tapping up" Cesc is the biggest hypocritical thing. A lot of players and managers in the EPL have said that tapping up happens in nearly all dealings. Harry Redknapp said it happened basically always. So for people to point the finger at Barca for luring a guy who was coming to Barca anyway (a huge fan, team he supported all his life, hometown) and single them out as "despicable" is just silly.

    Posted by bisdak 15 hours, 6 minutes ago
    as barca fan..i dont think mourinho deserve to be a coach..he is not playing fair already he commands madrid players to hurt some 1 just to win..what a u think hurting is the good idea just to win? common mour play fair if cant win accept it then move on..find players can match barca…

  14. Posted by Dr.A.K.M.Zahid Hossain 14 hours, 44 minutes ago
    Yes,Mourinho creating problems in Spanish national team player's because he is a Pourtugies.This session R.Madrid get favour from official's.It is not good for game to go unfunished for a bad incident.It is possible only in Spanish la liga, at England,France,Holland the incidents like Mourinho's eye poking and Pepe's step on Messi's hand are funishable incidents.
    I am from Bangladesh,It is my honest observation.

    Posted by Nin 14 hours, 39 minutes ago
    There always has been rivalry between Madrid and Barcelona, and it carries over to soccer.
    Of the 5 people listed above, 4 have ties with Real Madrid or are pro Madrid.
    There was a time when Real Madrid was a good team, but since Mourinho it has gone down both in talent, and sportsmanship. It is shameful.
    Barcelona FC and Guardiola, have shown the world how the game is played. Guardiola has demonstrated a lot more talent and education than Mou, in all areas.
    If The Spanish team didn't have most of the players from Barcelona FC, they would never have won the Mundial or the European cups.

    Posted by Blackshyd 8 hours, 43 minutes ago
    Here is a true barca fan and won't be bias at all…can someone tell me if football is a rugby? How can real madrid play that kind of ball and tell me they are playing football? How couldd a coacoach tell his player to commit a foul so as to safe him from next match ban? That's crazy..mourinho just nothing but rubbish

    Posted by Hanson 4 hours, 52 minutes ago
    guys pls cry less barca is the best team in the world dispise we miss one cup dose not make us loser we carried four cups which wey important to add to dat euro2012 wen it come to diving wat causes one bad leg tackling two the approach what wil u do if a player rush u aggressively and if u dont dive his bad tackling wil make u go on a long injury as villa went bosguest dose dive but he hang on balls dat is y d tackle him badly wen u talk of diving go to premiership ask nani or ashley young he wil tel u not wit a guy wit ball and somboy tackle him u call dat diving

    Posted by rik james 4 hours, 20 minutes ago
    villar takes away JM suspension but he was there when bara won three titles in a row, Barca has the highest payroll of any team but the run a loss,why? history is the answer, RM has it. Since Jm arrived,RM plays a harder brand of football, apparently the soft play did not bring any tiles the last three years.Spain needs Brca players just like they needed RM, Valenia, Villareal to win major titles. Move on Barca and come to play this season after all you cannot win them all

  15. Posted by Kokoman 3 hours, 32 minutes ago
    With the way this article is written, an ignorant person would think that the Barcelona team is full of angels who can't hurt a fly, not knowing that they have cheats (yes, cheats) like Busquets, Pedro and Dani Alves. It seems Barca fans would rather Mourinho played 'pretty' football in the classicos (and continuously lost 5-0) than the tough games they've been having. Let's not forget Xavi's comments during The Euros denigrating the Madrid team – and he's supposed to be one of the pillars of reason for Barcelona and Spain.

    Posted by sam 1 hour, 33 minutes ago
    RM a team that is like a houdini of debt, how they sold a traning ground for 200-300 million euro to finance the purchase of galicticos + beckham? A team that is never criticized for overspending by blatter and platini.

    Posted by cliff 26 minutes ago
    everything happening currently seem to favour madrid, but barca are doing the best to stop them. Truth be told barca overdoes when it comes to tackles and complaining to refferees. I think it should be fair distribution when it comes to sharing revenue from broadcast to level playing field.

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