After making headlines earlier this month with a bizarre tweet, legendary Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas has set Twitter ablaze with another viral post. This time, about his testicles.
“I’m really feeling like shooting myself in the testicles 7 times”, Casillas tweeted in Spanish. The tweet, posted at 2am in Spain time, where the former goalkeeper resides, amassed over 50 thousand likes in just a few hours.
His friend Ibai Llanos could be the motive behind the tweet
The post created mass confusion on social media. Until some users picked up on the fact that popular Twitch streamer Ibai Llanos had tweeted a very similar phrase just a few hours before. Is it a hacker again? Or a nod to his friend Ibai?
Just one hour after the strange tweet, Casillas shared a coherent and serious sounding opinion on Real Madrid’s Champions League loss, making it seem like the post was intentional on the former star goalkeeper’s part.
Iker Casillas claimed his account was hacked in infamous “gay” post
On October 8th, Casillas tweeted what was made to look as a ‘coming out’ message: “I hope you respect me: I’m gay. Happy Sunday.” After the post ended up going viral and even getting a reply from former Bara defender Carles Puyol, Iker Casillas assured that his account had been hacked and he asked for forgiveness from the LGBTQ+ community.
The European Super League continues to wait for the European Courts to pronounce themselves in 2023 in regards to whether or not there is a monopoly on football by UEFA. A22 Sports Management is the company in charge of sponsoring and helping the creation of the European Super League. In its advisory capacity, the group focuses on the general structure and the financial aspects of the hypothetical new competition.
As of Wednesday, the company will announce the hiring of 48 year-old Bernd Reichart as the CEO for the European Super League. He is an executive who recently held the position of General Director of the RTL Deutschland Group, according to the statement that MARCA has been able to access.
“The initial goal will be to initiate dialogue with a diverse group of interested parties in football, including clubs, players, trainers, fans, media and political officials. The objective is to facilitate the development of a sustainable sports model for European club competitions that reflect mutual interests and the wide range of fans and the general football community”, the statement reads.
Bara and Juve face trouble in the current Champions League
Along with Real Madrid and their President Florentino Perez, one of the aspirations of these three clubs is to make a more competitive tournament and avoid games against clubs of a lesser competitive level. Despite Bara and Juventus admitting that they are practically out of the round of 16 of the current Champions League.
“The current situation of European football is characterized by a series of challenges that will not be solved by themselves. The presidents of Real Madrid,FC Barcelona, and the President of Juventus have recently presented their points of view on the problems they are facing with the current Champions League model. I believe that they are raising the correct questions and personally I am willing to listen to different voices so that the European football community can find the appropriate answers together. The game that we all love will benefit from honest and open dialogue, free of restrictions, about a brighter future through a serious reform”, says Reichart in the statement.
Lionel Messi leads the way with seven Ballon d’Or awards followed by Ronaldo, who has five. Modric finished in ninth position, Vinicius Junior in eighth and Thibaut Courtois in seventh.
The two men to complete on the podium were Sadio Mane and Kevin De Bruyne with Erling Haaland sitting tenth, Kylian Mbappe sixth and Mohamed Salah fifth.
Benzema and Modric are the only two players who have managed to break the Ronaldo-Messi Ballon d’Or duopoly since 2008.
It wasn’t easy for the Frenchman to reach this level, but he adapted to his role after joining Los Blancos and his efforts paid dividends.
Support from the president
The most crucial moment for Benzema in his almost fourteen years at Real Madrid came after the Lisbon final against Atletico Madrid.
He was subbed off that day when Real Madrid urgently needed a comeback, leaving the pitch amidst whistles. From within the club there were people who believed that he should depart Real Madrid.
However, there was one person who never stopped believing in him, and that was none other than Perez. The Real Madrid president backed Benzema and time has proven him right.
It is clear that this Benzema is very different from the one who arrived in 2009. His transformation has come from the hand of a full identification with what Real Madrid represent.
After Ronaldo’s departure, he was given maximum responsibility on the pitch. Assuming what other players such as Gareth Bale or Eden Hazard avoided, he reached the top two months shy of his 35th birthday.
“It’s a source of pride,” Benzema said during the ceremony.
“It’s a childhood dream. I grew up with it in my head. Then I had the motivation. I had two role models in life: Zizou and Ronaldo.
“I’ve never given up. I thank my teammates at Real Madrid and in the national team. Also my great president, who is like family to me.
“Also to the Lyon academy and the president [Jean-Michel] Aulas. Thanks to him I fulfilled my dream of playing for Real Madrid. I’m very happy that Ronaldo is here. I always wanted to be like him.”
The Ballon d’Or has been filled with very curious encounters that took place in the corridors and in the stalls of the Chatelet theatre. There was one that stood out involving Kylian MBapp and Florentino Prez. If on other occasions any gesture of one or the other was understood as an approximation, this time, the distance between the two was more than evident.
What happened last summer, with the addition of everything that has happened in the last week around the Frenchman’s future of wanting to leave PSG, has raised the perfect storm, but from Real Madrid they want to make clear there hasn’t been any kind of approach. There is no room for speculation about a possible interest from the club.
The striker and the president shared space for two hours. If a year ago Al Khelaifi did not want to miss the award ceremony for Leo Messi, on this occasion, the president of PSG did not want to be present at the tribute paid by France Football to Real Madrid.
It was not the only reunion. Zinedine Zidane and the president of Real Madrid met again after the coach said goodbye to the Madrid bench. Affectionate greeting between the two, with a kiss from the president to one of his star signings, as well as one of the most successful coaches in Madrid’s history.
The Frenchman has been present at the Bernabu, but in his private box, not in the honorary one. He has also been in Valdebebas seeing his two children who continue in the white quarry, but they had not coincided.
Courtois was the star of the Champions League final against Liverpool, as he managed to almost singlehandedly keep his team in the game with some big saves.
He competed with extraordinary goalkeepers such as Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Alisson, Ederson and Jan Oblak but managed to win the prize for best shot-stopper worldwide.
Decisive in the Champions League
Courtois was criticized for his statements on the eve of the Champions League final against Liverpool, when he insisted that “when Real Madrid play finals, they win them”. His remarks were controversial due to his Atletico Madrid past.
The Belgium international was happy during his time at Atletico, but this does not mean that he wasn’t a Real Madrid fan when he was a kid.
Dream come true
When Real Madrid expressed their interest in signing Courtois, Chelsea tried to prevent him from departing the club. The Belgian star forced his exit to make his dream come true.
“I want to thank my team because thanks to them I have been able to win this trophy,” Courtois said.
“I want to remember my family and my children for the support I received from them throughout the year.”
The director of France Football, Pascal Ferre, remains silent on the identity of the next winner of the Ballon d’Or, which will be known this Monday, and in the face of Karim Benzema‘s status as favourite, he spoke of how Real Madrid know how to orchestrate campaigns to propel their players towards the award.
“Florentino Perez orchestrates the campaigns well, tacitly, without drifts, everything he does is authorised,” Ferre said in an interview with EFE.
The head of the magazine that has been awarding the prize since 1956 says that campaigns “don’t make you win, but they can make you lose when there is a bad message or a bad gesture”.
“There are machines like Real Madrid that are very strong. Their intelligence is that they support a single player. For years it was Cristiano Ronaldo and now it’s Karim Benzema. That prevents votes from being dispersed,” he says.
“They know how it works. It’s no coincidence that they’re the club that have won it the most times,” says Ferre in the office he has occupied since 2005.
Off the pitch
Ferre recalls that off-field reputation is also a criterion when awarding points, but does not believe that the conviction for complicity in blackmail handed down against Benzema should be an obstacle to him becoming the first Frenchman to win the award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.
“I think that has already been taken into account by the juries, but I don’t think it is an essential element. The Ballon d’Or is not the Nobel Peace Prize, they have voted on eleven months of competition,” he said.
For the first time in 15 years, Lionel Messi, winner of seven editions, does not appear among the candidates, “a gigantic event in the history of the award”, according to Ferre, who considers that “the Ballon d’Or is Messi and Messi is the Ballon d’Or”.
“His record is going to be very difficult to match, he is someone who embodies the Ballon d’Or well, because he combines individual and collective performance, but also a certain idea of showmanship and longevity,” he says. He remembers the Argentinian being “tremendously excited” when he called him on the last two occasions to announce that he was the winner.
“In 2019 he told me that he had forgotten the pleasure of winning it (three years after the last one), he had realised that he missed it. In 2021 I had the impression that I was talking to a child,” he says.
He also recalls Cristiano Ronaldo’s excitement when he was announced in several editions and believes that the Portuguese “has not digested being left behind his great rival”.
“It is a very important award for them. The Ballon d’Or is one of the few things you can’t buy. It makes them humble in the face of this kind of reward, it makes them like children,” he adds.
Messi and Ronaldo “have been the protagonists of one of the most intense rivalries in the history of sport”, says Ferre, happy that the Ballon d’Or has helped to fuel it, while considering that it will be some time before a similar duel is repeated.
“There is a lot of talk about the rivalry between Mbappe and Haaland, but neither of them have won the Champions League. At Mbappe’s age, Messi already had two Ballon d’Ors. If they want to establish a similar rivalry they have to start winning major trophies now. Messi and Ronaldo didn’t take that long,” he says.
Ferre is aware that the Ballon d’Or is not without controversy “because everyone has their favourites”, but when he reviews the list of winners he believes that “there is no one who has disgraced the award”.
Xavi and Iniesta, a scar
“I don’t think anyone is missing from the list. It’s obvious that there are some names missing. In my opinion there are three, Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Spain’s Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta,” he admits.
“For me it’s a big scar, because (Xavi and Iniesta) are two players who I rank very highly and who embody football as the Ballon d’Or sees it. But in 2010 they were up against Messi and I think they paid for the fact that, in that Spanish national team, the votes were divided between many names, which reduced their support.”
He knows that, for many, Raul Gonzalez is another of those absent from the list of winners, but he believes that “he is a step below” and recalls that he never won the World Cup.
On Lewandowski, Ferre also regrets that the Pole did not win it in 2020, when he was the big favourite but France Football decided not to award it because of the pandemic.
“We did it out of a desire to be fair, not all the championships had stopped. Robert keeps asking me if I don’t regret it, but I think we did the right thing,” he says.
For a few days now, his phone has been ringing off the hook. “Representatives, clubs, players… they want to know if they’ve won, it’s inevitable.”
The winner of 2022 already knows that he will embrace the golden trophy next Monday. Ferre has already gone through the usual ceremony of announcing it in person at his home.
“We try to keep it as secret as possible. Sometimes we disguise ourselves so that no one sees us arrive. And we tell the winner not to tell his wife or children,” he says.
Mbapp shocked the world after he performed one of the biggest transfer U-turns in football transfer history last May. Despite his move to Real Madrid being virtually done at the time, with just his signature needed to confirm the move, Mbapp decided to stay at PSG.
It was on the 21st May 2022, when the party began in Paris. The Frenchman stepped on the Parc des Princes pitch to announce that he would be renewing with PSG until 2025, to the delight of almost 50,000 jubilant fans. “I’m happy to stay here, at this club, in this city, in Paris. I’m overwhelmed to continue here and I hope to continue winning titles at this club with all of you. Thank you so much!”, he said. The atmosphere was electric, everyone was happy.
I’m happy to stay here, at this club, in this city, in Paris.
Fast forward just 5 months and the situation couldn’t be more different. As exclusively reported by Marca, after several turbulent months (for various reasons), the rupture between Mbapp and the club has been confirmed. There has been a major fall-out, so much so that striker wants to leave the club this coming January. It’s still unknown if this is a viable option, but Liverpool is rumored to be an option.
Mbapp will now undoubtedly regret those words and his decision to renew at the club. It certainly hasn’t gone to plan. It remains to be seen whether there’s a solution to the Mbapp problem.