Real Madrid lose libel case against newspaper over claims in interview

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and his construction company ACS have lost a libel case against Spanish newspaper AS and Catalan economist Jose Maria Gay de Liebana.

In a two-part interview published in September 2014, Gay de Liebana, a University of Barcelona professor, claimed Madrid's real debt was €602 million.

He also linked the signings of Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez, Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas and Mexico striker Javier Hernandez the previous summer to potential projects for ACS in those countries.

The libel action claimed the "honour" of Perez had been hurt and claimed €100,000 in damages.

After being upheld in a lower court by judge Francisco Serrano Arnal, it was denied by Judge Jose Ignacio Zarzuelo of Madrid's Provincial Court.

The judge also ruled that Madrid and ACS must cover the defendants' legal costs.

His ruling said the comments were allowed under Gay de Liebana's right to free expression, adding that similar questioning of Madrid's transfers and accounts had been voiced in many other Spanish media outlets.

The plaintiffs could still appeal against the decision and take that as far as Spain's Supreme Court should they wish.

AS editor Alfredo Relano is a critic of Perez's management of Madrid, and the Blancos chief has spoken in the past of "anti-Madridista" elements in the local press.