Abellán's recordings of Florentino Peréz

Audio tapes dating from 2006 have come to light this week through journalist José Antonio Abellán, in which Real Madrid president Florentino Peréz can be heard attacking senior players at the time, Iker Casillas and Raúl Gonzélez.

Well I can tell you that I am part of a very large group that has heard Peréz speak this way about Raúl, Casillas and others. This group includes all the relevant sports journalists in Madrid; a large number of club presidents with whom Peréz would share the traditional lunch on match days; and, above all, the parade of personalities that passed through the Madrid directors box during the years that those two legends graced the Bernabéu. Following the release of those tapes, both Raúl and Casillas will undoubtedly be feeling uncomfortable this week.

“Abellán himself offered me material”

It comes as no surprise to any of us to hear Peréz talk this way; he has always tended to be talkative. What is surprising though is that such recordings exist. In a statement, the club accuses Abellán of obtaining the recordings illegally. That is very likely. Not long after Peréz’s return for this second tenure as president, Abellán himself offered me material for AS at three successive dinners. And I have a witness to that in the then-CEO of GRUPO PRISA (the group that owns this newspaper), José Luis Sáinz, who was present from the second dinner on.

Abellán insisted that what he had was so serious that it could cause the destabilization of the club and he even suggested to me -- I believe with some malice -- the absurd idea of PRISA presenting a presidential candidate. That was something totally alien to the way of practicing journalism at this newspaper, and nothing could interest me less than such a thing. I understood that he was recording me and I politely suspended the meetings.

Now comes the bombshell from El Confidencial with the release of the tapes some 15 years on and Peréz has been presented as the victim of a maneuver against the Super League. That seems forced to me. He is rather the victim of his past friendships and it is the past that has returned to haunt him.