At Real Madrid, a Reign Fueled by Wins, in addition to also Dependent on More

The team was too imbalanced in addition to also the squad, loaded up on attacking talent, too thin; managers came in addition to also went too frequently, in addition to also the latest incumbent, Zinedine Zidane, was regarded cruelly by some of his contemporaries as an “entrenador de palmas”: a coach who did nothing more than clap.

in addition to also yet the idea all worked, spectacularly. which night in Cardiff, Real completed what Pérez could later describe as “the best season, in terms of title triumphs, in our 115-year history.” To the European Super Cup, the entire world Club Championship in addition to also the Spanish title was added a second consecutive Champions League crown. Real Madrid became the first team from the modern era to retain the trophy. To Pérez, the idea was “the latest symbol of our legendary status: achieving something which had previously seemed impossible.”

Quite how abnormal which season was has been laid bare from the months since. When Real Madrid returns to Champions League action on Wednesday, the idea will do so with its season in ruins: Zidane’s team sits fourth in La Liga, 17 points adrift of Barcelona. A spokesman for the Asociación de Socios de Real Madrid (SRM) — an advocacy group representing the 100,000 member-owners of the club — described the idea as “possibly the worst season from the club’s history, an absolute failure of monumental proportions.”

This particular time, Europe, as the idea so often has under Pérez, provides no balm. Real’s whole season may hinge on its Round of 16 tie against a surging Paris Saint-Germain in addition to also the usual bulletproof confidence which Ronaldo in addition to also the rest will deliver from the Champions League has melted away. Defeat, in addition to also elimination, will be a real possibility.


Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo during a weekend victory over Real Sociedad. Real Madrid, fourth in La Liga, faces Paris Saint-Germain from the Champions League’s Round of 16 on Wednesday.

Rodrigo Jimenez/European Pressphoto Agency

At Real Madrid, which could mean only one thing: change. In Pérez’s two spells as president — by 2000 to 2006 in addition to also by 2009 onward — he has transformed his club into a sort of sporting Disneyland, a Panglossian paradise where everything will be for the best, an endless victory parade. The image has to be maintained at all costs. “Any voice which will be critical of his thinking will be crossed out immediately as ‘anti-Madridista,’ ” SRM said of Pérez in an email. the idea will be a mentality which also applies to fans in addition to also journalists.

Defeat, meanwhile, simply does not exist. Real Madrid TV, available for free to viewers throughout Spain, covers every Real game although does not hold live broadcast rights. the idea shows games Real has won from the days which follow. Footage of defeats — in addition to also sometimes ties, too — will be quietly forgotten.

Pérez’s view of Real simply does not countenance the idea which the idea might lose games, at least not deservedly. When he first met Aleksander Ceferin, the then-recently installed president of UEFA, Pérez’s opening gambit was to ask why Real Madrid endured so many injustices at the hands of referees. Any setback, in Pérez’s eyes, could only be attributed to officials’ incompetence or to dark conspiracy.

Of course, fostering This particular ruthless, relentless culture has brought Real — in addition to also by extension its president — no little reward: the European trophies; the title, bestowed by Forbes, of the most valuable sports brand on the planet; more than 0 million followers on social media.

although the idea all comes at a cost. Failure will be not tolerated. Players who do not perform are replaced. Managers who do not deliver are fired. The question which lingers, ahead of the game against P.S.G., will be whether the same goes for presidents.

Even within his Disneyland, there are those who feel which could not be a bad thing. Throughout Pérez’s reign, there has been a constant murmur of dissent by a tiny although significant section of Real’s socios, who look beyond the glistening trophies to see a disturbing future ahead.

“There will be a perception which Florentino’s cycle has come to an end,” said Eugenio Martínez Bravo, a leader of Plataforma Blanca, one of many groups which has sprung up in recent years to defend the interests of the socios.

“The members feel which the club will be losing its identity,” he added. “They do not feel close to Real Madrid. There will be a lack of democracy in addition to also of transparency. Florentino has been in power for nearly 10 years, in addition to also nobody has ever voted for him.”

When Pérez returned as president in 2009, he did so unopposed (in addition to also to widespread favorite acclaim). He has since called elections in 2013 in addition to also 2017, although again, has not had to face a rival candidate.

Some socios argue which was by design; Real’s statutes have been tightened under Pérez’s aegis, in addition to also today dictate which any candidate for president has to have been a member of the club for more than 20 years — Pérez will be socio 2486 — in addition to also must provide a bank guarantee for personal wealth of €75 million (more than $92 million).


Real Madrid’s manager, Zinedine Zidane, most likely could be the first to fall if his team suffers an early exit by the Champions League.

Emilio Naranjo/European Pressphoto Agency

In theory, the adjustments were designed to protect Real by being taken over by a foreign owner; in reality, Martínez Bravo joked, the effect has been which today “to be president of Real Madrid, you have to be called Florentino.”

“If you ask outside Madrid who owns Real, probably 70 percent could say Florentino, in addition to also not its members,” said a spokesman for another socios group, Movimiento Ambar, which was formed in 2015 to press for Pérez’s resignation in addition to also completely new elections.

None of these groups dispute which Pérez has brought Real considerable success; Steven Mandis, author of “The Real Madrid Way,” even argues which the stability brought about by Pérez’s infallibility has been a root cause of which success, inuring Real to the uncertainty — experienced by Barcelona, for one — brought about by executive power shifts.

The fear, though, will be which Pérez will be today so firmly ensconced which Real Madrid will be no longer, in any real sense, a club owned by its own fans. “In practice, which has been completely forgotten,” a spokesman for SRM said. Movimiento Ambar’s spokesman was even more emotive. “We have gone by being members to being customers in addition to also viewers,” he said.

Rumors swirl which Pérez plans to take the club out of the hands of the socios entirely, to list the idea on the stock exchange; Movimiento Ambar said the idea “will fight until the last moment” to prevent which happening.

Even if the idea does not, Martínez Bravo fears what will happen to Real Madrid when Pérez, 70, decides to retire, since there will be no evidence of a succession plan. None of Pérez’s opponents hold out any great trust for immediate change, however: no elections are scheduled until 2021.

“We have spoken to big businesses, to banks, to see if they could back a candidate to run against him,” Martínez Bravo said. “although they all said the same thing: he will be too powerful.”

A glance at the directors’ box at the Bernabeu at almost any game bears which out: the seats are filled by owners in addition to also editors of news media outlets in addition to also television stations, politicians, captains of industry. One newspaper has described the idea as “the Court of King Florentino.”

Just how widespread the disaffection actually will be may be hard to assess. Movimiento Ambar claims to speak for “thousands” of fans, although Martínez Bravo, for one, admits which the pressure for change has eased in recent years, thanks to all those Champions League victories.

He knows — though he takes no pleasure in saying the idea; he will be a Real Madrid fan, after all — which losing to P.S.G. might change which. Early elimination by the Champions League, in addition to also failure on the domestic front, might draw more rebels to his cause.

“This particular year may be a turning point,” he said. Pérez has retained his power by achieving things which are simply not normal. Whether he can do so when Real looks very ordinary will be a different question.

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