No Country for Poor Men

Real Madrid and the Ras Al-Kaimah government announced plans for the “Real Madrid Resort Island”  set to open in the Arab Emirates in January, 2015. Plans include a theme park, a five-star hotel, 60 stand-alone bungalows with private-beach access, a Real Madrid museum, athletic fields and the first-ever seaside football field with a 10,000 seating capacity. — (22/03/12)

Oh, for the love of Di Stefano! It’s de plane! Everyone deplane the plane. Now! Get off! And don’t forget to return your earphones to the stewardess.

Here we are. This way, please. Cocktail? Do try the house speciality. We call it the manita. Nice, yes?

Ahem. A-hem. Manitas up, please. I’d like to make a toast:

Ladies and gentlemen, I am your host. Welcome to … Real Madrid Paranoid Fantasy Island!

No, no, no. Please, ladies and gentlemen. Smiles, everyone. I said *@%# smiles!

All of us at Real Madrid Paranoid Fantasy Island welcome you to our peninsular pleasure palace. As you may have noticed during your safety-parachute drop, our locale resembles a large palm tree. You Westerners are at a loss to explain how such enormous patterns are made across the planet’s face. Well, no one has said it couldn’t have been pre-historic alien Maya gods in search of precious metals for their shiny time-machine.

We are now in the lobby, where our concierge will relieve you of your serious psychological baggage. Why, weren’t you aware that the First International Congress of  Psychology Applied to Football recommends the “talking cure” to — where is the concierge? Oh, well. You wouldn’t want to meet him, anyway. You think he’s there to schedule your good time, but instead of a key-card he gives you a red one and then steals your Louis Vuitton luxury-luggage set. Vaya atraco.

Outdoors, our climate is perfectly controlled, our beaches shine with flecks of gold and the skies are always partly-sunny. Isn’t the Gulf lovely? A dip? No? Just as well. You never know when the press will arrive, with their follow-up questions and their picture-devices and their sensationalist-headlines. Six points, my culo. *%$@# sharks.

Now, as you can see, we also offer athletic fields, sports complexes, and a full-service spa. Who wouldn’t like to spend a pleasant hour or two in the Real Madrid vestuario after some good, old-fashioned gamesmanship? Our very own Norman can adjust your water temperature, close your plastic curtain and offer you a towel of 100% Egyptian cotton. Guests are not allowed to steal the towel. Sólo robar, that’s all you people do.

Now, the suites. In addition to a full-size brass-plate bedframe, each comes with a full city view; upholstered club chairs to entertain personal guests; a maple armoire for your belongings; and a bolt-lock door. Just in case someone is following you all season. You think you’ve gotten away, the silver stowed safely in your suitcase, when — bam! Out of nowhere comes some friend-o. And he’s a better chut than you. So here’s a sawed-off shotgun, courtesy of the Shah. Please return it at the end of your stay, ladrón.

Please, everyone. Smiles!






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Written by:

SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.


  1. blitzen
    March 23, 2012

    *Panto voice*: Look behiiind you!!!

    • ooga aga
      March 24, 2012

      soccermom, this made me laugh out loud! thanks!

  2. Laurentiu88
    March 23, 2012

    they are under this much stress that they go out and get a 1 billion dollars retirement place.

    so, Pepe misses Osasuna game as well but Ramos is cleared to play. I guess not having both CD was too much. 🙂

  3. messifan
    March 23, 2012

    Yay a SoMa post!

    This whole resort thing is weird. Are they licensing the name or actually investing some money in the resort? I hope Barca don’t do anything similar to this. It’s too over the top. Plus, I really dislike the idea of artificially building an island. Poor mother earth. The Dubai government built islands in the shape of the world too and apparently, not a lot people inhabiting those islands.

    • nzm
      March 23, 2012

      We lived in the UAE for 3 years.

      If it’s anything like all the other projects, Real Madrid will only be lending its name to the project and nothing else.

      Dubai did the same with a lot of other “celebrities” – Michael Schumacher, Donald Trump and Tiger Woods to name some. All of their projects stalled and were never completed. In Trump’s case, the hotel was never started.

      I’m not sure where Ras Al-Khaimah is getting the money from because the emirate isn’t oil-rich. It’s a fishing state now concentrating on developing real estate and economic freezones.

      We’re laughing at the completion date being projected as 2015. Nothing in the UAE ever runs to schedule. If this thing ever gets built, or remains on the grand scale at which its been introduced, I’ll be very surprised.

      Yeah – I’m hoping that FCB doesn’t follow suit. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Many reputations have been singed or burned upon failed UAE projects.

      • CuleFromLiveBlog
        March 23, 2012

        As an Emirati, I dare say this is all but an unfruitful endeavor to create a façade that would earn the said city some sort of reputation worldwide, and ultimately attract tourists. I wholeheartedly concur that EE will only be lending its name to the project, I mean, no institution in its right mind would contemplate paying through it’s nose to finance a project that carries a great deal of risk.

        Sadly, I share your skepticism. Problem is, projects of such magnitude always fail to live up to the hype (If we discount Burj Khalifa).

        That said, I’m sure EE tried their luck with Abu Dhabi and Dubai to no avail, which explains why they chose RAK.

        As much as I despise RoSELL, he’s too pragmatic a man to follow suit.

        • messifan
          March 23, 2012

          Maybe this deal is an extension of their Fly Emirates deal? I do wonder who will build this resort. Florentino Perez owns a construction company, right? It’s not really our problem but it’s interesting to see how they expand their brand.

          Their official reason is to target emerging markets. But the UAE is not really a big market. Could it be that Barca develop a partnership with Qatar and thus RM want to the same with the Emirates, or it could be the other way around? Qatar vs the UAE, Barca vs RM?

          • nzm
            March 23, 2012

            Unless he’s a complete idiot, I highly doubt that Perez will get involved in construction in the UAE. It’s an incredibly cut-throat business with Middle East construction companies in total control of what’s being built.

            Emirates is due to start flying into Barcelona as of June this year. They become heavily involved in sponsorship of sporting teams wherever they fly into – look at Arsenal (Emirates Stadium) and their shirt, as well as PSG, Hamburg and AC Milan with shirt sponsorship, and a whole lot of other teams receiving Emirates sponsorship in other ways.

            It will be interesting to see how this pans out for FCB, as Turkish Airlines is the current airline partner.

            Add Qatar Airways and Emirates to the mix, and bang – bidding wars! New stadium sponsorship just like that!

            I’m sure that Rosell will listen to all proposals, because Espanyol (especially if they move into Champions League contention) will also benefit from some very nice offers too!

          • CuleFromLiveBlog
            March 23, 2012

            Yes, Perez happens to be a construction tycoon, but I don’t think he’d cash out a single dime to finance this project.

            No, I don’t think the Dubai-based Fly Emirates is involved in the deal or else we would’ve heard a statement from their end.

            Interesting theory you got there, one can only wait and see how this develops.

          • nzm
            March 23, 2012

            Just to elaborate on a couple of things:

            1. Emirates Airlines is not the national airline of the UAE. Etihad Airways is the recognised Abu Dhabi-based National UAE Airline.

            Emirates Airlines is owned by Dubai which is one of the 7 emirates of the UAE. I don’t think that Dubai will be getting involved in a RAK (Ras Al-Khaimah) project – especially when RAK has a fledgling airline of its own, and even more so when Dubai has so many struggling projects within its own emirate.

            2. The UAE in itself is not a big market, but the Middle East is. Manchester United/Liverpool/Man City/Chelsea have big ME fanbases, as does Real Madrid. FC Barcelona is also gaining traction. The Middle East and Asia are two largely untapped markets as far as Spanish clubs are concerned – there is enormous potential to increase revenue streams by promoting into these regions.

        • nzm
          March 23, 2012

          CuleFromLiveBlog: I would hope that Rosell would say no, but what if Qatar comes calling and wants to build an FC Barcelona resort in time for the 2022 World Cup? If it meant extra cash for FCB, I think that Rosell would be tempted!

          • messifan
            March 23, 2012

            It’s Rosell. He’ll do anything for cash 🙂

          • CuleFromLiveBlog
            March 23, 2012

            I wouldn’t rule it out. But based on our current financial situation, this idea seems a little far-fetched. (As of now)

            It would be interesting if that happens say 4-5 years down the road. I suppose Rosell would entertain the idea if it meant that Qatar will take care the financial burden off of the club’s shoulders.

          • messifan
            March 23, 2012

            Thanks nzm for the info. It’s interesting to see so much money invested in football by the Gulf states. But I’m still not convinced by the idea that building/lending the name to a resort in the UAE will attract a larger a fan base in the region. If a RM fan has money, he/she would want to go see the game live in Madrid. Why spend it on a resort?

            And then there’s the issue of financial fair play. If this project succeeds, how will profit or loss be factored in RM account?

            I kept hearing about Barca planning on building a new stadium and club officials denying the story. My take on this is that the club leaks the story to the media in order to evaluate public opinion. Stories of how it would be cheaper to build rather than renovate the stadium keep appearing and gradually fans are going to start accepting the idea that a new stadium should be built. And then who knows, naming right anyone? Maybe I’m just paranoid.

            Also, how does Sandro Rosell earn a living? In theory, Barcelona President is a volunteer position, right?

      • vivaespana
        March 24, 2012

        I am in the UAE right now and have been living here since 2004. I am a lighting engineer and am directly associated with the construction industry of the UAE.

        Right now there is a lot of development being seen in the nothern emirates of RAK (Ras Al Khaimah) and Fujairah. Contrary the above post which refers to RAK as a fishing state, I would like to say its got a lot of industries and manufacturing units. With Dubai still recovering from the financial crisis, a lot of investors are putting their money into RAK and Fujairah – both having strategically located ports.

        As has been mentioned RM will almost certainly only be lending its name to this resort. And for doing that ONLY they will get a share of the profits when the resort island eventually does begin operations. RM really has nothing to lose here.

        RM is big here by the way. Although Barca has caught up in the last few years, there are a lot of RM fans. I know there is an official penya as well that has more than 3000 registered members. In contract FCB’s Penya which opened in 2009 has about 500.

  4. messifan
    March 23, 2012

    OT: Iturralde Gonzalez is retiring 🙁
    There’s a video of him singing Athletic anthem featuring Pep, Karanka and others. I’m going to miss his awesomeness 🙂

    • nzm
      March 23, 2012

      Damn! I love him as a ref. He got injured in his last game (Betis v RM) so I guess he’s calling it a day.

    • March 23, 2012

      The Mad Professor? Aww. 🙁

      He’s such a character. Has a Twitter account if I’m not mistaken.

  5. March 23, 2012

    Hehe, loved the post SoMa. Clever as always.

    A resort? Really? 😆

  6. Dani_el
    March 23, 2012

    I take this information from Cristian Pulina’s yahoodeportes blog:

    “According to article 94 of spanish rules of the game:
    Insults, verbal offenses and injurious attitudes:
    To insult, offend, or direct at the referees, dirigential persons, or sports authorities in injurious attitudes will be sanctioned with a suspension from 4 to 12 games.

    Pepe said “this is some robbery, you son of a *****”. And Pepe has been suspended with only 2 games. The committee considered that calling a referee a “son of a *****”wasnt an insult but a showing of “only” contempt (menosprecio). Let us remember that in the 99-00 season Klivert was punished with four games for the same offense. Even now, Real Madrid is trying to fight the suspension. ”

    And according to Sport, Sergio Ramos will not be suspended, for his double yellow card. The commission has taken one of his yellow cards, just like that. Of course Alves will be suspended for his double yellow cards. That’s that. I think this is why Pep says that 6 point are a whole lot this season.

    • Laurentiu88
      March 23, 2012

      well what could we have expected? for pocking the eye 2 games! for the hand stamping 0 games (as no finger was severed)

      • Dani_el
        March 23, 2012

        Yeah, this is getting ridiculous. It isn’t d’accord of “the best team of the 20th century”. We can expect worst thing from now on. Oh and Iturralde Gonzales resign because of “disagreements” with the refereeing commission.

  7. Laurentiu88
    March 23, 2012

    Ah, this is what it is, let’s hope it backfires 🙂 maybe Ramos will find his inner self again and give a penalty away 🙂

    I was looking over the card situation and it might be interesting now that key games are ahead not to mention the el clasico where every absence matters:

    so RM:

    1 card away: Ramos, CR, Coentrao.
    2 cards away: Pepe, Alonso, Kaka, Khedira, Di Maria and Higuain.

    and FCB

    1 card away: Cesc, Masche, Alexis,
    2 cards away: Xavi, Iniesta, Keita, Valdes.
    (Alves and Pique are 3 cards away)

    It is worth mentioning the possible backfire effect of the decision on Ramos today: since he is one card away from a suspension there is a risk of him missing the Pamplona game together with Pepe. The worst choice when compared with a relative easy game home.
    Other observation is that the important CR is one card away and with the hard games for them him missing will be a real blow. Also card happy Alonso and Pepe are running a tight rope especially ahead of our game (and with games at Atletico, or home to Valencia).

    On our situation, Masche is sure to get one card soon; hope not tomorrow as after we play Bilbao but after games look more accessible. He may miss the Zaragoza trip for instance.

    • messifan
      March 23, 2012

      Please translate it. I read it through google translate and didn’t quite get the full effect 🙂

  8. nia
    March 23, 2012

    The only reason Ramos’s card was rescinded, coz there would not have any CB left for the next match. I hope they lose to Sociedad.

  9. messifan
    March 23, 2012

    In my dream, Barca would play in the Bundesliga. Great fans and great organization. Imagine the pretty football minus the chaos.

    My preferred lineup for tomorrow is:


    Sub: Cuenca, Tello and Keita

    But I think Pep might want to experiment before the Milan game. Mallorca are doing pretty well with their new coach. I remember him as a defensive coach during his time at Athletic. So I’m expecting a counterattacking team from Mallorca. Or maybe, they’ll try take advantage of our defensive shortage and go for an attacking option.

    I’ve given up on the idea of winning the league a while ago, so I’m not going to adjust my expectation. What’s important now is to play well and build momentum for Wednesday. It’s one game a time, and let’s win 🙂
    P.S. The game is tomorrow at 1pm EST.

  10. messifan
    March 23, 2012

    So quiet here. Happy Friday Everyone!!!

    I just want to share this article comparing Messi’s and Tevez’s situations. The Messi part we know but the Tevez part is interesting, especially when juxtapose these two stories together. The thing about Tevez is that he’s really talented but his sporting narrative is combined with his personal/financial struggle and sporting commodity/business. He is viewed almost exclusively as a football mercenary and everything that is wrong with the game, while Messi, in contrast is viewed almost like a football Cinderella.

    • March 23, 2012

      They’re probably all watching The Hunger Games. I won’t watch it until Tuesday ‘cuz I’m cheap. (Movie tickets are half price on Tuesdays over here; it’ll be conveniently scheduled when RM play Apoel… :mrgreen: ). Also because the books are better than adaptation most of the time and so I don’t have high hopes.

      Back to football, we should sign Aguero someday. Also I remember Tevez and Messi playing footy tennis against Maradona and Enzo Francescoli back in the day.

      • messifan
        March 23, 2012

        The Hunger Games? It comes out today? Are the books any good? For some reasons, I kept hearing this series being mentioned with the Twilight series. And I really dislike Twilight. Horrible books and movies!

        • blitzen
          March 23, 2012

          I haven’t read the books, but I know people who have, and they are pretty highly rated. Given that they are YA books. I can assure you they contain no sparkling vampires.

          Seems a bit of a rip-off of Battle Royale to me, but from what I hear it is well done.

        • March 23, 2012

          Nothing like Twilight (which should die in a fire in my humble opinion); shouldn’t even been in the same sentence honestly. The reason they’re being mentioned together is probably because they are both young adult novels that feature love triangles with large teen fanbases; the difference being The Hunger Games are actually good. The premise is Battle Royale-esque but very well done as blitzen says. If you’re looking for a fiction to read, it’s worth your time.

          The first was great (the best in the trilogy IMO which is why I’m hesitating re watch the movie), second a wonderful ‘2nd’ book – some believe it was the best; the third was disappointing for me and many others, but it depends on expectations I guess. Mine were really high.

          • Anonymous_69
            March 23, 2012

            I’ve read the first two. So the third isn’t great? That’s too bad, the first two were fun. Very different though, I felt. I thought the first was better, as it had that cool “wow this is a new random book I just picked up and it’s fresh and well written!” feeling. I often times pick up a random sci-fi type book, and usually they suck. The City of Bones… oh god that made Twilight seem like something written by Tolkien… But I loved the Hunger Games. My biggest problem with it though was that I was too easily able to predict exactly what was going to happen next. The satisfaction I got at being right wasn’t enough to compensate for the lack of surprise :). But I really loved the mutated wolves!

            The second one was harder for me to predict, but I felt as if it lost some of its freshness. In the first one, we don’t know much of what goes on in Katniss’ mind, we just know she’s an awesome survivalist, and she just wants to see her family again. So even though we don’t get too personal with her character, in a way we see her character completely exposed for who she is, and that teaches us more about her than anything else could have. The second one tries to get personal with her and shows us her emotions and stuff… meh 😀

            • March 23, 2012

              Well, I don’t want to put you off the third. It wasn’t bad – still better than a lot of books out there. It has a nice mix of action and politics as well as a realistic outlook on a lot of issues that would normally be swept under the carpet in most fictional works. Psychologically, it’s well done. As for surprises, you’ll find some definitely. Out of nowhere too. In fact it was because of these surprises that some people didn’t like this one. If you’ve read The City of Bones you could definitely get through this.

              I just thought the conclusion was hurried – like if she took her time to flesh out her ideas, let it simmer for a bit, and then revisited them it would have been better. There are certain events, though I understood why she did it and why they happened (I also commend her for having the gumption to do it) , I didn’t agree with. I think you might as well finish the trilogy; who knows, you might have a different opinion than myself.

              Though if emotional things aren’t your cup of tea, you might not enjoy a chunk of the book… 😀

              Read it anyway. :mrgreen:

      • messifan
        March 23, 2012

        Hahaha, Kari. So that means, RM will not win in Cyprus 🙂 Whatever you do, don’t check the scoreline.

        I just read the review by Manohla Dargis of NY Times. She said the directing is too soft and the acting by Jennifer Lawrence is “bland”. She also mentioned Battle Royale as well. But she liked that this is a story of girl that can survive on her own. I might check it out.

      • mega_tajh
        March 23, 2012

        The $6 a movie Tuesday Crew!!!!!

      • Ryan
        March 23, 2012

        Thanks Kari! I’d never seen that video. Messi is faultless even when he’s goofing around, eh? Great header of the ball, although Tevez leaves something to be desired.

        • March 23, 2012

          No prob! I like to think of it as foreshadowing via footy tennis. 😀

    • Messiah10
      March 25, 2012

      Fantastic article. It suprises me that this contrast hasn’t been mentioned before. I truely believe if Messi came on during the ’06 WC match between Argentina vs Germany that Argentina would have won. They had the prowess to beat Italy’s defense. He would’ve stretched that game and made Germany less compact and able to counter and fight back. Guess we’ll never know. Tevez is a SAD, SAD, SAD case of a premier football talent being leeched off of by a blood sucking “agent”. I use the term, “agent”, carefully. Joorbachian is more of a vulture feeding off the “dead carcases”(poor economic circumstances of underprivleged families). It’s interesting to compare Macherano & Tevez. I’m hypothosizing that Mach has a stronger character and less prone to listen to K.J. Maybe Mach’s parental background and family life was better even if they’re socio-economic circumstances were equal to Tevez’s. I’m just speculating of course. I’m unaware of either’s background, but it seems odd that both are represented by the same Vampire and one is clearly more prone to be a mercenary than the other.

  11. March 23, 2012

    Alexis, Mascherano and Cesc are all one yellow away from suspension. Would miss the home game against Athletic Bilbao.

    Given that and the fact we play Milan away on Wednesday, I’m interested in seeing how risky Pep is tomorrow. 7 of Mallroca’s 9 wins have come at home and all of those games have been tight, one goals affairs. (The only exception being a 4-0 drubbing of Villarreal).

    Mallorca’s threat offensively isn’t much – they’ve had trouble scoring goals – but you never know what could happen. As their coach is Caparros (Athletic Bilbao coach before Bielsa) you can expect the game to be physical and hard fought and them staying tight and compact while playing on the counter.

    Every Liga game for us is essentially a final (we can’t draw let alone lose). With that kind of team, we will need players who are able to break between lines and those who can score in tight areas. Messi, Iniesta, Cesc, Alexis, Thiago and Xavi (given his goalscoring form this season) all apply here.

    But there’s a crucial CL game away; it’d be beneficial to rest as many players as possible. Pep’s approach to this game may say a lot. We might use a lot of youth players and count on them to make a difference – very risky. But to win titles you have to take risks.

    Interested to see how it goes.

  12. mega_tajh
    March 23, 2012

    OT: If anyone’s interested here’s a video of the FC Schalke LB we supposedly interested in.

    Christian Fuchs.

    I know its just youtube highlights but I’m loving his freekicks and crosses, even his eye for goal.

  13. Chiu
    March 23, 2012

    – Nice post SoMA! I like this part “You think you’ve gotten away, the silver stowed safely in your suitcase, when — bam! Out of nowhere comes some friend-o”

    – My line-up for Mallorca game:
    Montoyo – Pique – Mascherano – Puyol
    Iniesta – Busi – Thiago
    Messi – Alexis – Pedro

    I suppose Pep would rest Xavi and Cesc in eye for Milan clash. After riding the bench in midweek, it signs Pep arrange Iniesta and Busi to start this match. My subs would be Keita, Tello and Cuenca to replace Iniesta, Pedro and Alexis respectively; after the 3 points pretty locked.

    – More energy required to bring home a positive away result in Milan. But I don’t think Pep would gamble too much by fielding lots of B-teamers given the circumstances where our chance in league is still realistic to put an effort. He said yesterday, 6 points is still difficult to overcome. We agree, but I feel he would “care” for both Liga and CL evenly important from now on. The approach would be different compare to when the gap was 10. I expect he would employ a well-managed rotation similar to the last 3 seasons when we still have prospects in all competitions at this phase.

    – We will play 2 hours before EE – Socieadad match. So we have another opportunity to lay an intense stress on EE psyche before they kick off by provisionally cut the gap to a mere 3 points. Visca BARCA!

  14. Chiu
    March 23, 2012

    From barcastuff:

    “The day after the game against Milan (general strike Spain), Barcelona could train at Milan’s training centre or at Brescia’s stadium.” [gdb]

    The strike in Spain is another external factor that would distract our CL travel schedule this mid-week. Thank god this time it would happen after the match, so we don’t have to take bus to Milan again.

  15. barca96
    March 24, 2012

    I believe Mourinho said something like this earlier in the season when we were both struggling. I’m paraphrasing:

    “It is better to have a win and a loss (EE) than to have two draws (Barca).”

    How can Ramos’ yellow card be rescinded? Both Alves’ yellows were questionable especially the first one where that guy simply stopped running hoping for Alves to run into him.

    Don’t the other La Liga clubs complain about this?

  16. March 24, 2012

    The Hunger Games seems to be the new thing these days. Saw many mentions of it in twitter timeline and on facebook. Surprisingly, I had never heard of it till now (until the movie trailer came out). According to the comments above, it defo worth reading them (I thought I had read all the good YA books out there) but I don’t want to spoil the book by the going to see the movie. But I haven’t seen a movie in theatres since a while Ack! And I stull have Game of Thrones unfinished and the whole Foundation trilogy waiting to be read on my table, not to mention all the reading material needed for class. So much to read, in so little time… :-/

  17. March 24, 2012

    So, with the Kony baloney and now these games, children taking up arms seems to have gone viral. Wonder what the families of victims in real life feel about that.

    Anyway back to reality, EEistas are complaining that the leniency shown towards Ramos is part of a bigger conspiracy to suspend him against Osasuna. I feel that this is part of an even bigger conspiracy against us to distract us from the CL by filling us with false hope about the Liga. Which in itself may be an even bigger conspiracy to stop me completing my studies by making sense of all these conspiracy theories. /end incoherent babble

    • Laurentiu88
      March 24, 2012

      are they also forcing Ramos to play and hack ant Basque player? 🙂 Or he can’t do it otherwise.

      • March 24, 2012

        Well they know Ramos won’t be able to control himself..

  18. Bill
    March 24, 2012

    Awesome Xavi song…


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