The "Príncipe de Asturias" Awards to sports are now under suspicion

The "Príncipe de Asturias" Awards, a spanish version of the Nobel, recognize every year the most brilliant personalities on many fields of the human activity, sports included.

These sports awards have earned a good respect even if many of their prizes seem to obey to punctual successes or doubtful merits. Even if many awarded have politely refused to receive personally their medals.

Real Madrid was a nominee this year, which would have been one more recognition in to their merits in their Centennary year, some moths after increasing their legend by winning their 9th European Championship. Among their rivals, the most important was Michael Schumacher, indeed a living legend of Formula 1

It's been known that, asked about their attendance should he be awarded, Schumacher said he wouldn't come. He was then replaced by the Brazilian Soccer Team, that finally received the award, even if their nomination came clearly out of date!! The members of the jury are several spanish personalities of the world of sports. A great number of catalans is happened to be a part of the jury, and this fact is in the root of great suspicions, that have increased after the voting system has been known. In fact, the system does not eliminate in successive rounds those with the less number of positive votes, but thos with the greatest number of negative voices. This system is ideal for a concerted minority to eliminate an "uncomfortable" candidate.

There's a great confusion now because, although no one doubts about Brazil's merits, there has been too many irregularities and "coincidences" along the process that point towards Madrid being eliminate dby not'so-clear reasons. Real Madrid wasn't even between the five finalists -that included the doping-banned Heike Dreschler



RONALDO READY FOR DEBUT (21-9-02) .- There is already a date for the most expected debut this season. Ronaldo will play his first minutes as RM player against Genk, along the CL match to be played at Bernabéu this wednesday.

The brazilian has been training at normal pace with his teammates for several days, and Vicente Del Bosque wants to give him minutes as soon as possible

This seems a reason sound enough to predict a massive attendance to the Bernabéu when the current CL holders play their first match at home this week.

RAÚL JOINS HIERRO ON TOP OF SPAIN'S SCORERS (9-9-02).- Raúl legend keeps on growing. Along the last match played against Greece he scored his 30th goal for the National Team, equalling Fernando Hierro as top scorer of the reds.

Thus, the striker has "fixed" a strange situation, which is having a defender, even an offensive-minded one like Fernando Hierro as Spain's best scorer ever. And now, with Hierro retired from the international scene by his own will, Raúl is plenty of time to leave his teammate very far away and to set a record very hard to beat...

MADRID'S JACKPOT AT THE UEFA GALA (30-8-02).- The Annual UEFA Gala held in Monaco in the evening before the European Supercup had a most shining star: Real Madrid. The current CL holders won all the individual prizes awarded by UEFA to the best players of the las Champions' League for which they had candidates:
- Best Coach: Vicente Del Bosque
- Best Defender: Roberto Carlos
- Best Striker: Raúl
- Best Player: Zidane

Curiously, Zidane has been recognized MVP of the season without being candidate to the prize of Best Midfielder, finally on by Bayern's Ballack. His team-mate Kahn has been seen for the fourth consecutive year as the best goalie of the competition. Also Mario Jardel - who, according to insistent rumours could be very soon a new RM player - received his second Golden Boot after his great season at Sporting Lisbon.

REAL MAKE SOME SPACE AT THE DRESSING ROOM (29-8-02).- Although the media have focused on the possible transfer of Ronaldo along this summer, the technical staff's main objective along this time has been getting rid of several players Vicente Del Bosque doesn't count on. The extremely poor performances of theses players, and the promotion of several youth players that did seize their chances made up to 8-10 players to be offered for sale. Some of them were clearly warned by the club: if they didn't accept one of the several offers received for them, they would be left aside from the team for the coming season.

This was the case of Iván Campo, Tote, Congo, Julio César and Munitis. The first of them still doubts whether accept the deal with Bolton or look for a new opportunity in Spain. Congo and Tote seem to have already made up their minds (going to Levante and Betis), while the two latter still don't have their future clear, especially the brazilian defender.

Meanwhile, other two players have already left the club: Savio, who will spend his last year of contract on loan at Girondins, and the home-grown Fernando, who, despite his good season at Valladolid hasn't been allowed many chances by Del Bosque this summer and has opted for a change.

With the transfer market about to close, more news should happen soon.

RONALDO WON'T WEAR IN WHITE... BY NOW (23-8-02).- When positions seemed closest in order to reach an agreement that would bring Ronaldo to Madrid, the club has published an official report saying that "decissive differences" have made negotiations with Inter to break

The meeting of both presidents last thursday seemed a sign of a close deal that would include 12 million euros and two Real players (probably Morientes and Flavio). However, Inter seems to have made several steps back, coming out with an exaggerated request of 80 millions to be paid in cash. This would be the same quantity that Madrid spent for Zidane last year.

Therefore, it seems the negotiations have had an end, but this is not sure. Now Inter has one problem, which is dealing with a very expensive player that wants to leave. Real Madrid, meanwhile, after repeatedly saying the signing up of Ronaldo was "not strategic" can wait calmly, especially if we consider that the welcome given by the fans to the brazilian no.9 wouldn't be as effusive as the one given to Figo or Zidane.

Will Real made any signing this summer? The only posibilities on this subject seem to reduce to the mexican Márquez or the AC Milan brazilian Roque Junior, in order to reinforce the position of central defender.

MADRID MOVE AT LAST FOR REINFORCEMENTS (17-8-02).- Late, unusually late, but Madrid seems to be moving at last. The team needs to fix some bugs still present in the constellation of stars that move in the European Champions. Apart from the Ronaldo affair, -now the brazilian seems much closer than a week ago- the club seems to be pointing towards an old target such as the mexican defender Márquez. The Monaco player left very good sensations in the World Cup, and Madrid has formally asked the french club about him. It seems that 15 million euros could be enough to bring Márquez to Spain, an amount of money that seems acceptable even in these times of crisis. Vicente Del Bosque has inssisted about the need of signing a central defender, after Karanka left the team, and foreseeing the transfer of Iván Campo. This would leave Hierro and the youth Pavón and Rubén as the only natural born defenders, although Helguera could join them. About Ronaldo, it seems that the next week we could see the brazilian wearing in white. We must still wait to know if Inter accepts a reasonable prize, around 50 million , that could include players like Flavio and even Morientes, although Inter's Moratti first talked about Roberto Carlos and Makelele -these are major words, pal!!!

RONALDO TO BE THIS SUMMER'S BOMB? (3-8-02).- Shortly before the match played against Liverpool, Jorge Valdano appeared for the media to confirm partially the rumours pointing towards an agreement between the Inter striker Ronaldo and the club, to make the player a part of the RM squad for this season. The sports director said that some conversations have been held between the club and the player's manager, and that the will of Ronaldo is leaving Italy to join Real. However, Valdano said that there is a tacit agreement bewteen both clubs to ensure peaceful relations, so it is too early to talk about a transfer. Notwithstanding, this also happened last years with Figo and Zidane, and once the player has revealed his will, probably the conversations between the clubs wilkl start next week. If Inter is receptive -the bad relationships between the President and the player are notorious, and the italians are repeatedly insisting on Makelele-, Real Madrid will have ignited the transfers market for the third consecutive year!

REAL MADRID PRESENTS BUDGET FOR 2002/03 SEASON (30-7-02) .- Real Madrid has given green light to their budget for this season, reaching up to €293 million. This sharply reduces last years' amounts, but only because the selling of the training grounds boosted the numbers of the previous season. That year was very important for the club's economy, because of the washing of the debt that pressed so hard on the accurate management of the club.

Budgets foresee a profit of nearly 80 million euros, and this goal will be possible because of the proper evolution of ordinary incomes, an improved policy of merchandising and, especially, for being free of the enormous financial wieght derived from the debt.

The economic futur of the club is shiny, because the financial expenses from the players have already been made, and an extraordinary income is yet to be received from the selling of the Ciudad Deportiva.
Fernando Hierro, Madrid's central defender and captain of the spanish national team along the World Cup, has decided to retire from the reds as soon as the Korea-Japan championship ends.

Hierro, who is 34 years old, has been showing a remarkeably enlightened mind when facing his obviously close farewell. No one can deny his better years are already gone, although he's still a world-class player and without doubts the best spanish central defender, even the greatest ever.

Certainly this is the first step towards the end in the career of a player that has written his own legend. As a defender, he has shown authority, a superb placement on the field and a superb quality (many have even suggested his ideal position would be as a midfielder), and an astounding hability to score. In fact,, Fernando hierro has netted more than 100 goals for Real Madrid, and is today the top scorer in the history of the spanish national team, a lead that will undoubtely be soon claimed by Raúl, but that is still of his own with 29 goals in 88 matches. These numbers should increase as long as the spanish course in the World Cup goes on.

CRAZY ABOUT ZIDANE (17-5-02).- It may be true that Raúl's goal was worth exactly the same in the final score, and that, in injury time, Casillas became Madrid's saviour. But in football the most important thing are goals, and Zidane's in Glasgow was amazing and decissive. It was valious enough to put the european press down on their knees in front of the french player, who has become, deservedly, champion of everything. He has won the World Cup and the European Championship with France, and the Champions League with Real. Zizou has climbed to the very top along his career.
In his home country, the NOTICIASpaper L'Equipe has devoted its main pages to him. In Spain all the media hail his technical move that ended in the 2-1, and also in Italy, Britain, and even in Germany where, while reamrking Bayer's good performance, they haven't saved good words towards the white 5.
Zidane came to Madrid to win the Champions League, just like Figo. His past experinces -two lost finals, one of them facing Real Madrid- made up his mind to join the club from Castellana Avenue, and facts have proved him right
Everybody will now expect the best from him at the World Cup. Also Madrid, who will certainly see their merchandising income boost about the player's image. Zidane's shot on goal ended in a superb goal, earned a Champions League... and much, much money.
Does anyone doubt that the 80 million euro expense needed to tie him up have been profitable?...

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