MADRID (AP) Real Madrid’s only opponent this week has been off the field.
Unable to play over the weekend because its Spanish league game at Celta Vigo was postponed by bad weather, Real Madrid traded blows with a local mayor who accused it of improperly pressuring to play the game despite security concerns.
Upset with the mayor’s comments, Madrid released an official note condemning the “inappropriate” and “totally inaccurate” statements.
Sunday’s match was called off after Vigo authorities deemed Balaidos Stadium unsafe for spectators because of damage caused to the roof by heavy wind.
“I expected cooperation from a team of Madrid’s grandiosity, not pressure,” Vigo Mayor Abel Caballero said Monday. “It’s only a football match. Even for Madrid, it’s only a football match. In my opinion, there was an improper controversy prompted by Real Madrid.”
The postponement created problems for Madrid because of an already tight schedule that includes decisive games in the Spanish league and in the last 16 of the Champions League. The club already had a game in hand in the league, at Valencia, because of its participation at the Club World Cup in December.
“Real Madrid regrets the unfortunate statements made by the mayor of Vigo, in which he states that this club disregarded the security measures required for the (match) to go ahead,” the club said. “Not only are the mayor’s comments inappropriate, they are also totally inaccurate, because at no point in time did Real Madrid question the security measures in place at Balaidos.”
Madrid said it merely proposed alternatives to avoid having the game postponed, including closing the affected seating section under the damaged roof and looking at playing at a nearby stadium.
“These proposals were made with a view to avoiding the postponement of the fixture from negatively impacting upon the four competitions, given the knock-on effect it would cause between them, as well as the massive financial losses suffered by television channels from around the world, which will have an impact on future tenders for the sale of broadcasting rights,” Real Madrid said.
Celta was also affected by the postponement because it is playing in the Europa League and in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey. Celta was expected to use its second-stringers against Madrid in the league, however, so a new date could play into its advantage.
“Madrid isn’t happy because we eliminated them in the Copa (quarterfinals),” Caballero told the Spanish sports daily Marca on Tuesday.
Celta coach Eduardo Berizzo said the club obviously would rather play a team other than Madrid, but dismissed the notion that the game was called off because of that.
“The game would have been suspended regardless of the opponent because it was unsafe for the fans,” Berizzo said. “I still don’t have the ability to make it rain.”
Celta’s opponent in the Copa del Rey, Alaves, also complained of the game’s postponement, saying it gave its rival an unfair advantage because it didn’t have to play any matches after last week’s first leg in Vigo, which ended 0-0. It wanted Wednesday’s second leg played at a different date so “both teams would play under equal conditions.” Its demand was not granted.
The Spanish league defended all the decisions taken regarding the game in Vigo, saying they were based on requests made by local authorities and with the safety of players and public in mind.
“Abel Caballero said the game couldn’t be played and gave his reasons for it,” league president Javier Tebas told the daily AS. “Those who have doubts about the mayor’s decision can make a complaint against him.”
The match between Celta and Madrid wasn’t the only one that had to be suspended because of bad weather in northern Spain. Friday’s match between Deportivo La Coruna and Real Betis also had to be called off because of damage caused by heavy wind at Deportivo’s Riazor Stadium.
The games have not yet been rescheduled.
“The calendar is very tight,” Tebas said. “But we will find a solution.”