Real Madrid and Celta Vigo will have to wait a bit longer before exerting revenge for lingering grudges.
Their long-awaited La Liga match was canceled last Sunday for security reasons after Celta’s stadium was destroyed by strong winds.
Abel Caballero, Mayor of Vigo, has argued that Celta’s Estadio Balaidos suffered worse damages than the one which affected Deportivo La Coruna vs Real Betis on Friday.
Although Madrid tendered an official statement against Caballero’s “inaccurate statements,” the Vigo mayor says Los Blancos know they’re wrong.
Real Madrid’s first section of their official statement reads: “Real Madrid regrets the unfortunate statements made by the mayor of Vigo, Abel Caballero, in which he claims that this club disregarded the security measures required for the Celta Vigo v Real Madrid fixture to go ahead…”
Zinedine Zidane‘s team were desperate to play against Celta on 5 February which was the original date after the match was canceled last December, but Caballero insists they have security concerns at Balaidos.
Madrid’s anger comes from the fact that they have a congested schedule for this month and would have loved to lessen their burden by a game.
Los Blancos have fixtures against the following teams: Osasuna (11 February/La Liga), Napoli (15 February/Champions League), Espanyol (18 February/La Liga), Valencia (22 February/La Liga), and Villarreal (26 February/La Liga).
Marca, a Spanish sports news outlet, caught up with Caballero in the FEMP (Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces) before the mayor returned to Vigo earlier today.
Did you imagine such a stir for a game?
“It is symptomatic, but I must say that it is a football game. It is true that Madrid is Madrid, but Celta is more important. I think there is a very negative part to all this. I made a decision based on the safety of the people, and there is a club that tried to lobby according to their interests. That is not proper.”
Maybe Madrid also wanted to play without risk to people …
“No, that was impossible. It’s the City Council who decides whether to play, not Real Madrid. If there are gusts of over 40 km/h playing is prohibited by law. That (indicates the damaged area of the stadium) was caused by winds of 150 km/h. It’s reckless to even consider playing. Real are unhappy because we eliminated them from the cup.”
Are you upset with Real Madrid?
“It is a very serious issue when a club tries to twist a decision that is made based on the safety of thousands of people. It is improper. I don’t think they thought it through.”
Maybe there were other alternatives …
“To try to play? There are situations where you can’t. I saw the stadium and there were a lot of pieces of the roof that could fall at any moment. It is superfluous for someone to believe that he is above that. It’s incredible to say that it can be fixed, and therefore very pretentious on the part of some. Florentino is a great president, but if he has to do this…he is not so good anymore. Celta is better than Madrid! We play better and we already won.”
From what you are saying it is reckless that you are playing matches at Balaidos every Sunday. Should not that be fixed already?
“We are fixing it.”
Imagine that a storm occurs during a match …
“No, such a storm does not appear unforeseen. The game would have been suspended.”
Was it not suspended then due to damage to the roof?
“With those gusts of wind you cannot play football.”
And what do you say to those who accuse you of not having the works done three years ago?
“We are the only stadium in Europe that are undergoing a total refurbishment at a cost of 32m euros. Do you know why the work stopped? Because a group filed an appeal in the administrative court that paralysed it in the month of December. If that hadn’t happened, this would be fixed.”
What if this had happened with a team other than Madrid?
“Nothing would have happened. Madrid are only being like this because Celta eliminated them from the cup and I celebrated it very clearly.”
Do you not understand the commitment of Madrid to play at another stadium?
“No, I speak as an amateur and as mayor of Vigo. The match has to be played in Vigo. Madrid’s attitude of ‘I am very big, you have to do what I want,’ was wrong and they know it. Their prestige has suffered greatly because of this. Celta wanted to play anyway. The game was not played because I decided it and I do not delegate security to anyone.”
Do not you think the image of the League was damaged?
“No, the image of Madrid was damaged. The decision was taken by the mayor, not the League.”
Should not LaLiga make that decision?
“No, I suspended it. I do not delegate security to anyone.”
Do not you think the calendar is too tight already?
“Madrid are overloaded with matches? Celta has the tightest schedule, competing on three fronts, whilst Madrid only have two competitions to worry about because we eliminated them.”