Whiter than you think – Chapter 5: Scandal in the European Cup

En estos tiempos oscuros, en los que el madridismo se lame las heridas en espera de la Regeneración, el blog donde se reúne su reserva espiritual sigue extendiendo al mundo universo la verdad sobre las insidias que sus enemigos han vertido a lo largo de los años. Llegamos así al quinto y escalofriante capítulo de Whiter than you think, que narra cómo nos robaron la 6ª Copa de Europa.

Artículo original: Anti-Barcelona.com
Traducción: El Socio

What you may have heard:

Real Madrid was always favored by UEFA so they could achieve the great successes of their golden era. On the opposite, Barcelona would always be stopped on their tracks by UEFA rulers and referees to prevent them to reach bigger achievements.

The facts:

At the beginning of the 1960-61 season, Real Madrid was the undisputed top team in the world – After winning five european cups in a row, they had conquered the first Intercontinental Cup, beating Peñarol de Montevideo, the american champion, by 5-1. That season, the world champions were coupled in the European Cup 16 last round with their historical rival, FC Barcelona. No one doubted that the mighty Real Madrid would pass the round, even though Barcelona were champions of Spain. Nevertheless, the performance of not one, but two referees, were to prevent that.

The first match was played in the Santiago Bernabéu on November 9, 1960. With an enthusiast crowd, Real displayed a great gameplay, which put them in advantage 2-1 with two minutes to the end of the match. In that instant the barcelonist Evaristo sent a long pass to the hungarian Kocsis, who was clearly off-side, foul which was signaled by the linesman. The play ended when the Real’s keeper Vicente hastily left his goal and knocked Kocsis down outside the penalty area. Astonishing everyone in the stadium, the english referee, Arthur Ellis, did not only ignore the offside, but also gave a penalty kick for Barcelona. Luis Suárez would take it to put the 2-2 in the scoresheet.

The european papers covered this controversial play. In the Paris-Presse, Louis Neville reproduced these words from Mr. Ellis: «I’m quite sure to have seen my linesman waving his flag, but it was to signal the penalty». Nevertheless, the linesman, Mr. Stewart, told to the same journalist: «It’s obvious. I’ve seen a Barcelona player offside». When he was asked why he hasn’t done anything when the referee gave the penalty, he said: «I thought Mr. Ellis would have a good reason to let the game go on. Thus, I kept my run on and I saw a penalty».

For the second leg, played on the 23rd of the same month in Barcelona, UEFA designed another englishman, Reg Leafe, to referee the match. Though we could consider that Arthur Ellis had made an isolated mistake, Leafe’s performance in Barcelona could hardly be defined as any other thing than a deliberate theft. It’s very hard to find another match in the history of international competition where a referee benefitted more a team over the other. The match was broadcasted in TV, so we’re not talking about some written account – What the spanish and european fans would see were neutral TV images. And this is what happened.

Real started the match playing better than its rival. Nevertheless, it was Barcelona who opened the scoresheet by means of Vergés on the 25th minute, hitting a corner kick. Two minutes later, Canario suffered a penalty in Barcelona’s area and stayed lying in the ground. The ball went to Del Sol, who scored. But the goal wasn’t allowed: Leafe had given a foul… against Real Madrid!

In the second half, Barcelona obtained its second goal at the 68th minute, scored by Evaristo, who beat Vicente with an spectacular low header. Immediately, after the kick-off in the center of the field, Puskas passed to Di Stéfano, who headed to the net. Once more, Real Madrid’s skill had overcome an against goal. But once again, the referee disallowed the goal for Di Stéfaano’s offiside. Unexistent offside – the position of Barcelona’s backleft Gracia validated Di Stéfano’s position.

With 2-0 in the scoresheet, Real Madrid stormed Ramallets’ goal and erased Barcelona from the pitch, despite Pachin playing injured as a right striking winger. In that moment came the play which the press of the time would call «the one-legged man goal»: after a good play of the white team in the right wing, Pachin scored another goal, which was once again disallowed by Leafe.


The next play was a shot by Gento, which surpassed Ramallets, but was taken out of the goal by the defender Gracia, when the ball had trespassed the goal line. Leafe did not only disallow the goal – but he didn’t even consult with the linesman, in a much better position to see the play.

With four minutes to go, Canario got to score, and for the blancos’ astonishment, the goal wasn’t disallowed. Madrid desperately went for the draw, and Marquitos almost scored on the 89th minute. Seeing this situation, the referee decreed the end of the match before the reglamentary time.

Unlike «others», Madrid’s players didn’t fall into hysteria. Despite their understandable anger, they had enough guts to congratulate their rivals. In the tribune, Real Madrid directors, as much hurt -if not more- as the team, didn’t resort to the gesticulation and rudeness that would make that presidential box famous in following decades. All of Europe but England, homeland of both referees, gave notice of the scandalous performance of the judge. «France Soir», in November 26 edition, said «the five-times european champions saved their honor thanks to a goal by Canario in the 86th minute, after the referee, Mr. Leafe, disallowed three goals. The TV broadcast shows that the result of the Barcelona-Real Madrid match was distorted by the referee». All the headlines of the european press said more or less the same thing: «Mourir en Beauté (Dying in Beauty)»; «The great defeated in the Nou Camp was the referee»; «Three goals disallowed: Mr. Leafe, the referee, disqualified Real Madrid from the European Cup»; «Real Madrid players have lost their European Cup, against all logic, in favor of an injustice and being superior to their beaters. They produced better-quality football. They were the exclusive protagonists of yesterday’s show in Barcelona. It was a victory, but not a success. And much less a triumph. All the honors go for the beaten, defeated by a coalition of luck and refereeing. Thus, this is not what Barcelona had dreamed for days, weeks, months, years. They didn’t guess that if some day they went up to the Capitolium, it would be using the service stairs.»

What can explain such q tendentious refereeing against Real Madrid? Although in the moment there could be suspicions about a bribery by FC Barcelona, this isn’ very credible. A more logical explanation would be that UEFA were afraid that, if Madrid kept winning European Cups, the interest in this competition would decrease. Thus, it was in their interest to expel Real Madrid as soon as possible. We can’t neither forget the tense relationships of Santiago Bernabéu with UEFA rulers, which materialized in the later negative of Real Madrid’s president to play the UEFA Cup, considering it a «minor trophy».
A desolate Di Stéfano with Miguel Muñoz.

Barcelona can’t be blamed for the theft suffered by Real that night without falling into their very same faults. The interesting fact is the little legitimacy of Barcelona when they spread those so-called conspirations which prevent them to be «more than a club». Also very interesting is the different behaviour of both clubs when faced with a damaging refereeing. At no moment Real signaled Barcelona as the culprit, on the contrary. In its informative bulletin, Real Madrid published the following: «… Regarding the national chorus, its unanimity is chilling: Real Madrid didn’t deserve to lose. The chorus includes, and it’s for us an extremely pleasurable duty to signal it, the great catalan press, many of its qualified headlines haven’t hesitated to claim that substantive thruth […], that Barcelona -which has a collossal team that can beat us any day, at their home or at ours-, hasn’t elliminated Real Madrid from the VI European Cup in any place other than the cold -though decisive- official truth of the referees’ reports. In the Bernabéu Stadium and in Nou Camp, two english referees had no mercy of Real Madrid, cucifixying it with absurd rulings, which went from the invention of a penalty to the relentless disallowance of four goals. An authentic conspiracy which could, in less serenes minds than the ones ruling this society, lead to the most direct suspicions. […] Along with the press, the cinema and TV images say today -and will be available to be reviewed now and always- how Real Madrid fell. That’s why honesty’s election gives us as winners. God may favor Barcelona so it gets in the current edition of the European Cup the same glory that in the five previous ones consecrated the clean madridist effort».

Despite Real Madrid’s good wishes, Barcelona lost the final against Benfica. And if anyoned cherished any doubts on who should have won that round, eleven days after the referee’s ransack Madrid beat Barcelona on Nou Camp scoring five goals. Interestingly, on the same season in which Real Madrid suffered its most tendentious refereeing ever, its superiority in the league led their adversaries to create fictitious and artificial controversies about refereeing decisions. It would be in that moment when the black legend about the regime’s favor over Real Madrid would begin to be woven.


Whiter than you think – Chapter 4: Kubala’s shady deal

All right, he was culé.

Artículo original: Anti-Barcelona.com
Traducción: El Socio

What you may have heard:

Whereas Real «stole» Di Stéfano to Barça, with «the help of Franco’s regime» (see here the debunking of such story), the catalan club followed the most strict legality to sign their superstar from the 50s, Hungary’s Ladislao Kubala. As a «prosecuted» team, they of course disn’t have any kind of help from the government. Real Madrid claim to be the first to talk to the player, after seeing him in a match at Bernabéu, but Barcelona had already contacted him months before.

The truth:

Ladislao Kubala turned Barcelona into an unstoppable team. They won almost every disputed title among 1951 and 1953, only missing the 51 League. The 52 Season became to be known as the «Five Cups» one: League, Cup, Copa Latina, Copa Eva Duarte and Copa Martini Rossi. During Kubala’s run, Barcelona won the League in 52, 53, 59 and 60; Generalissimo’s Cup in 54, 57 and 59, and Fairs Cup in 58 and 60. His great popularity was one of the reasons for Barcelona´s move from Les Corts to Nou Camp.

Kubala had developed his career among Hungary and Checoslovaquia. In 1949 he was playing for Vasas Budapest. Opressed by Hungary’s communist dictatorship, which among other things didn’t allow him to join his wife and newly born son in Czechoslovakia, at the beginning of that year he flees the country disguised as as soviet soldier. He arrives in Innsbruck with no papers, and from there he travels to Zurich in the automobile of Pro Patria, a Serie A milanese team. On march 19, FIFA’s Secretary General assures him his situation will be legal within a year. In consequence, Kubala signs for Pro Patria and starts playing friendly matches. In May 1950, Real Madrid receives a letter from Italy offering the performance in Spain of a team called Hungaria, formed by not only hungarian players, but also from Croacia, Albania, Romania and Yugoslavia, all having in common his escape from the communist yoke. These evaded players couldn’t get permission from their respective federations to play in western teams, which led them to form this team, coached by Ferdinand Daucik, former Czechoslovakia international and Kubala’s brother in law, who also had fled his country. They played their first match in Gorizia, against the Italian B National Team, but after a protest from the Italian Communist Party their matches were banned.

Real Madrid accepted the offer and Hungaria debuted in Chamartin on June 5, 1950. Kubala shined as his team’s playmaker and put them ahead scoring two goals, but Madrid was able to come back and win 4-2. It was probably in Hungaria’s visit to Madrid when the white club started contacts with Kubala to sign him, but he suggested to have his brother in law Daucik also hired as coach. Real refused, having an ongoing contract with english Keeping, but handles him a contract draft for him to study.

Nevertheless, some weeks later, after a match played in Barcelona, Kubala signs for the azulgrana team, which did accpept Daucik as coach. Funnily, Kubala used the contract draft Real had handed him to try and have Barcelona offering him the same. Thus, on June 16 Kubala becomes a Barcelona player for the next three years, but oddly he signs as an «amateur» player. Immediately after, Real denounces that Barcelona has violated the no agression pact among both clubs, but Barcelona’s vicepresident, Narciso de Carreras, claims that they had contacted the player months before. There’s no documented evidence of such claim.

Nevertheless, Barcelona faced an unsurmountable obstacle – Kubala couldn’t officially play, as he lacked the transfer from Vasas Budapest. Carreras claimed that they had the Spanish Federation support, specially from its president Muñoz Calero. According the Barcelona board, the communist regime had abolished professionalism, and therefore Kubala was an amateur player who should enjoy total freedom to decide. Nevertheless, the Secretary General of the Federation, Ricardo Cabot, historical culé, had publicly assured that no hungarian players could be signed by FIFA’s decision.

On July 1950, Hungaria’s members dissolve the team and seek a solution to their cases separately. In that moment Kubala realizes that his future was not guaranteed by the amateur contract he has signed with Barcelona. From Mallorca, where Hungaria had played its last match, he writes a letter to Real Madrid, where he opens the possibility of new negotiations. With this, Kubala gets his goal – faced with the possibility to lose such an extraordinary player, Barcelona puts him immediately in its payroll, though still as an amateur.

Thus, on October 12 1950, Kubala debuts in Les Corts in a friendly match against Osasuna. Real Madrid, surprised, addresses the Federation, whose Secretary General had claimed shortly before that no hungarian players coul be signed. The Federation answers that «the aforementioned gentleman, as well as his teammates from Hungaria CF, can’t perform in any club legally affiliated to FIFA, unless they present the transfer certificate sent by their origin Federation, which in this case won’t agree with it, since they abandoned the clubs which held their rights (…) Their particicpation in friendly matches won’t be possible either, since they must be registered in the club which intends to align them, and this Federation, abiding by the requirement it has received, won’t dispatch any such petition…»

Heroic fight against the dictator.

But the Federation just fined Barcelona with 50 pesetas (around 100 euros in today’s money), a laughable amount for matches wich raised an enormous expectation. In consequence, Kubala played again against Zaragoza, and twice against Eintharch Frankfurt in Christmas. In every case the Federation fined the small penalty. Their complicity with Barcelona for him to wear their colors was more than evident. The problem of the transfer by Vasas Budapest was solved, as blaugrana president Montal had predicted, «without much trouble». Indeed, in April 1951 he was declared a political refugee, which would allow him to play in Spain even lacking the transfer from Hungary. At the same time, he received spanish citizenship. The problem posed for this process by his lack of papers was solved by his baptism in Águilas (Murcia), residence of his godfather, Spanish Federation president Armando Muñoz Calero. Shortly after, they payment of 12 million Liras to Pro Patria and 300.000 pesetas to Vasas Budapest in exchange for the Hungarian Federation agreement would close Kubala’s transfer to Barcelona.

If the catalan team had such an easy time signing kubala was clearly thanks to the government’s officials. There’s no proof of early contacts among Kubala and Barcelona, but negotiations with Real are well documented. Barcelona didn’t break the no agression pact in its letter, but did so it in its spirit. Probably Bernabéu wouldn’t have accepted the imposition of any coach, but things could have been different if he had known how easy the Government would make be to normalize the player’s situation. His signing was good propaganda against communism, and in those years Barcelona’s rulers, such as president Agustí Montal, were appointed by the authorities. Just a year after putting his foot in Spain, Kubala obtained the citizenship, with the ostensible help of his godfather, the Federation’s president, a real odd story for such a «mistreated club». That didn’t prevent them to sorely complain when Di Stéfano’s signing, some time later, didn’t work according to their interests.


Whiter than you think – Chapter 3: Di Stéfano’s signing

Artículo original: www.anti-barcelona.com
El Socio

What you may have heard:

From 1929 to 1953, Real Madrid had only won two of 22 leagues, both times before the war. In the eleven years since 1953, the year that Di Stéfano arrives in the club, Real Madrid won 8 leagues , 2 Latin Cups, 5 European Champions Cups and an Intercontinental Cup. Di Stéfano’s signing arrived after a race with Barcelona for the argentinian’s services, who finally went to the white team. In later years, the barcelonistas have claimed a supposed intervention of Franco’s government for the benefit of Real Madrid, as well as all sorts of dirty maneouvers by the capital’s club to get the player. But once again, reality is very different.

The hard, cold facts:

Alfredo Di Stéfano became known to the white fans in the match for the club’s 50th anniversary, agains Millonarios of Bogotá. Madrid’s council became immediately interested by Millonario’s number 9, but said club’s rulers pointed the impossibility of his signing, because of the «Pact of Lima», which put the player in a complicated contractual situation.

Some years back, Alfredo Di Stéfano had been the sensation of the 1947 argentinian league, playing for River Plate and becoming top scorer with 27 goals. But his situation changed drastically with the strike called by the Futbolistas Argentinos Agremiados association, which prevented him from playing again until may 1949. But by then his spirits were down and his relationship with the River rulers was very poor, so in August of that year he left for Colombia.

In that year, columbian football was in the process of splitting. The club’s rulers had left the Federación Colombiana and created the Asociación Colombiana, which began signing players paying high sums for them. Among these players were Di Stéfano, who signed for Millonarios de Bogotá. FIFA didn’t recognize the new association’s rights, thus starting a long conflict wich would only be solved in 1951, with the Pact of Lima. In said pact, FIFA recognized the club’s rights over the players until December 31, 1954 at most. After that date, the rights would return to the previous player’s owner, River Plate in the case of Di Stéfano.

The argentinian had emmigrated searching for a a btter professional future, but the situation in Colombia was changing: every time less people attended the games, and for the players it was becoming increasingly difficult to receive their salaries. During a team’s trip to Chile in Christmas 1952, Di Stéfano declares himself in rebellion. Then he travels to Buenos Aires and decides no to return to Colombia, even considering retiring from football. Millonarios sues Di Stéfano, who had perceived $4000 in advance, and FIFA tels every federation about the impossibility of signing him. As a result of these events, the player starts 1953 in Buenos Aires, unable to sign for any club and waiting for 1955 to return to River Plate.

Meanwhile, in Spain, and thanks to Kubala’s arrival, Barcelona had cemented its hegemony in spanish football. They had won the Cup in 1951 and 1952 and the 51-52 League. Nevertheless, at the beginning of 1953 Kubala was diagnosed with a lung affection which raised serious fears about the player’s future. Facing this situation, the president Enrique Martí trusted the technical secretary José Samitier with the signing of a star who could replace Kubala. Barcelona then put its eye on Di Stéfano, and started contacts with River Plate, although the rights still belonged to Millonarios. Even so, Barcelona’s president reached an agreement with River Plate by which they’d pay 4 million pesetas for the services of Di Stéfano, starting January 1, 1955.

Thus, on May 23, 1953, Di Stéfano arrives in Barcelona. But by that time Kubala’s health has fully recovered, thanks to which Barcelona wins the League and the Cup, being for this reason invited to the «Pequeña Copa del Mundo» held in Caracas. Barcelona’s president Martí travels there intending to solve Di Stéfano’s signing with Millonarios. In the interview, Millonarios’s president, Alfonso Seniors, demands a payment of $ 27.000 (roughly 500.000 pesetas) for the players’ rights. Barcelona’s president refuses to do so, and he even declares that they are willing to keep Di Stéfano from playing for a whole season.

In that moment, Real Madrid makes its appearance. Madrid’s vicepresident, Álvaro Bustamante, sends Raimundo Saporta to Bogotá with the $27.000 required to sign the player. Once this is done, Saporta travels to Buenos Aires to buy the remaining rights from River Plate, but this can’t be achieved, since Barcelona had already paid 2 million pesetas to River. Nevertheless, Saporta gets a commitment from the club to not taking sides in case a conflict arised. Considering Di Stéfano a Real Madrid player in that moment, Saporta travels to Barcelona and contacts him. Those days the player felt abandoned by Barcelona, feeling unable to sove his case and having played only three friendly games with the club. His interview with Saporta gives cheers him back up, and the fact that Saporta pays him his first money as a Real Madrid’s player also cheers his wife, who was already worried about the family’s budget. One week later, Millonarios’ president meets Don Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, closing the player’s transfer to the white club. Alfredo Di Stéfano was a Real Madrid player… till January 1, 1955.

In this situation, none of the two spanish clubs held the rights for the 1953-54 season. FIFA told the Spanish Federation that Di Stéfano would’t be granted any license till this conflict was solved. It was necessary thus for both teams to reach an agreement. Faced with this, Barcelona’s president loses his nerve and tries to sell the player’s rights to Juventus of Torino without informing Di Stéfano, which angered the player. After Juventus’ refusal to negotiate for a player with such a complicated situation, Barcelona contacts River Plate asking in quite inadequate manners for the withdrawal of the contract and the returning of the two millions already paid, to which River refuses. FIFA designates Armando Muñoz Calero, former president of the spanish federation, and who had so strongly worked for Kubala’s signing, to act as mediator. Calero takes a salomonic decision: Di Stéfano will play for Real Madrid in the seasons 1953-54 and 1955-56, and for Barcelona during 1954-55 and 1956-57. After this, both clubs will have to decide about the player’s future.

On a first moment, the clubs agree on this decision. Nevertheless, there was a new problem: Starting August 24, 1954, a new regulation prevented spanish teams from signing foreign players. At this point comes the only government intervention in all the affair, as clubs are allowed to sign those players who were in negotiations before August 22. On September 22, 1953, Real Madrid submits Di Stéfano’s license in the castilian federation. Some hours before, Barcelona’s president resigns his post due to the mistakes made during the player’s signing.

The comission which took charge of Barcelona gave up its rights over the placer provided that Real Madrid offered an economic compensation for all the spendings made during the negotiations. There could be many reasons behind this decision, such as Kubala’s recovery, coach Daucik dislike of Di Stéfano first performances with Real Madrid, or his fame as a controversial player. In any case, the comission’s official reason was that Barcelona was too important a club to share a player with another team. On October 25, 1953, before the match which would face both teams in Chamartin, Barcelona signed the document by which it officially renounced to the player, with Real Madrid agreeing to pay the catalan club 4.400.000 pesetas. In the playfield, the Madrid directed by the player which Barcelona had refused beat Barcelona 5-0 with two goals by Di Stéfano. Real Madrid’s golden age in national and international football had begun.

Barcelona’s lies

– The phones used by Barcelona in their south-american negotiations were not bugged by Real Madrid, as claimed in sources as the FC Barcelona’s Centenary Collection, Book 11.

– There was no intervention by the government. The authorization to sign foreign players already under negotiation was a general one, and several clubs, such as Valencia, Español and Valladolid benefitted from it.

– Contrary to what’s claimed in Barcelona’s webpage, Di Stéfano was not on lease on Millonarios of Bogotá. The colombian club held the player’s rights, and thus could sell them. Also, it’s not true that FIFA gave the reason to Barcelona – It declared that both clubs were right and had to reach an agreement. If Barcelona had paid the amount demanded by Millonarios, they’d been able to keep the player. Real Madrid’s better negotiating skills, bigger spending and will to have the player gave them the edge.


Whiter than you think – Chapter 2: Bernabéu and Franco

Artículo original: Antibarcelona.com
Traducción inicial: Cannavoro

What you may have heard:

Among all the fictional tales spread by antimadridista propaganda about Real Madrid, perhaps the most hurtful is the one trying to establish a close relationship between Santiago Bernabéu and the Spanish government headed by Francisco Franco. According to Bernabéu’s detractors, the great success of our team during his mandate was not a result of the work of the president, but a result of Franco’s interest in helping Real Madrid, in return for its image as a symbol of the dictatorship.

The facts:

The relationship between the best president in the history of football and the authorities of his time was hardly cordial. Despite his strong patriotic spirit, Bernabéu was always politically independent and kept Real Madrid safe from the interference of the winning side of the Civil War. Franco’s regime didn’t help Real Madrid – more so, it even but harmed the institution some times, and used its astounding success as a tool to promote its political standpoint without asking for the club’s permission.

It’s funny that the primary cause of the arrival of Bernabéu to the club’s presidency was a result of the government’s protection of Barcelona. A great victory (11-1) of Real Madrid against the blaugrana team was followed by several episodes of violence . To finish it, government officials decided to unfairly force the presidents of both teams to resign. On September 15, 1943, Santiago Bernabéu was «provisionally» elected as Real Madrid’s president. He served the club until his death on June 2, 1978. During the years of the Spanish 2nd Republic (1931-1936), Real Madrid (renamed “Madrid FC” because of the republic’s ban of monarchical symbols) was one of the most successful teams in the country. When the Civil War surprised the spaniards, our club was the most harmed, since we had to see how a triumphal era came to an abrupt end.

After the war, in 1939, the difficult task of rebuilding the club began. 300.000 pesetas of the time were necessary to rebuild the destroyed Old Chamartín Stadium, which during the war was used as a detention camp. Real Madrid had to attract people to its matches again and get new players for the team (only five players of the squad of 1936 could return to the white club). Achieving these goals was an almost impossible mission, since the club’s heritage had been looted (a few trophies from the beginnings of the 20th Century were among the stolen goods) and there was no official help, since the Spanish Army adopted Atlético de Madrid as his team, and even changed its name to Atlético Aviación (after its merger with Aviación Nacional, a team founded by army members), so all aids and favours knew in which direction they had to go.

All fans of Atlético and Barça, raise your hand!

As can be seen, when Bernabéu arrived to the presidency, Real Madrid was a dead club in its heritage, its sporting side and its social mass. But the hard work of the Real Madrid lovers that he led, including Adolfo Meléndez, Pedro Parages, Antonio S. Peralba and the Marquis of Bolarque, managed to return the club to the top. In order to refute Madrid haters’ lies about the impeccable figure of Santiago Bernabéu, we only have to focus in some confrontations he had with the authorities of Franco’s regime. These incidents were brought on by his strong personality, which never accepted that the government hadn’t done a thing to help Real Madrid during its reconstruction, but intended to use the victorious club image that he had created for its own benefit.

In that time, when Spain had a very damaged international image for its economical depression and lack of democratic rights, Real Madrid was one of the few things the nation could proudly show to the rest of the world. Real Madrid’s victories during those years, especially in the European Cup (the first five ones and the 1966 edition) have a very easy explanation: it was the best team of the world. No sporting or political manipulation can be blamed for our European reign, and there have never been any serious claims against it. On the contrary, when Real Madrid was on the way to win its 6th consecutive European Cup, in the second leg of 1961’s semi-finals (the first, played in Madrid, finished 1-1) against Barcelona the referee called off… four legal goals! to our team, which lost 2-1 and was unfairly eliminated from the competition in arguably one of the greatest scandals in football’s history.

The years of victories across Europe were accompanied by many conflicts of Bernabéu with UEFA heads, making Real Madrid the most laureate team of the old continent, and at the same time, the most disciplined, showing the mutual aversion between UEFA and our club. The white president was never defeated by UEFA’s sanctions and pressures, and bore with patience the shameful arbitrations of the European Federation over these years. Bernabéu could forgive but not forget these offences, and returned the clash in a masterly way when he rejected the participation of Real Madrid in the newborn UEFA Cup as a minor trophy under the level of the club’s prestige. That decision caused the anger of UEFA, which started a new anti-Real campaign where the referees
were again, sadly, the main performers.

Among the conflicts with Franco’s government, the one involving the president with Millán Astray, founder of the Spanish Legion and battle comrade of Franco, was the showiest. Millán Astray had a reputation of a dreadful temper, and for instance had allegedly attacked the famous argentinian singer Carlos Gardel. Astray was at the box of Chamartín Stadium during a match, and went too far with the wife of one of the guests. When Mr. Santiago heard this, he immediately headed for the guest’s box and expelled the general, banning his entry to the Stadium. Astray threatened Bernabéu with death, and only the intervention of General Muñoz Grandes (who served with Bernabéu during the Civil War) prevented things to go beyond simple words.

The president’s behavior, totally inconceivable in postwar Spain, made his figure rise close to the rank of genuine hero. Another example of Bernabéu’s strong personality was seen in the old Real Madrid Sports Hall (years leter renamed “Raimundo Saporta”), during a basketball game between Real Madrid and Maccabi Tel-Aviv. In the match presentation, Bernabéu condecorated the israeli general Moshé Dayán (who was proud of being a loyal Real Madrid supporter) with his own Real Madrid gold badge. This unprecedented act caused the anger of the government (General Franco’s regime didn’t recognize the State of Israel), and made lots of his heads vow “eternal hate” to Mr. Santiago.

As a result of this, when in 1973 Mr. Santiago presented his project of building a new stadium, the government objected and impeded its construction. The mayor of Madrid, Arias Navarro, wouldn’t even talk about the matter. In Barcelona, the opposition to the government’s help to Real Madrid’s new stadium was led by the judge Pérez Estevill. Arias Navarro was years later named chief of the Spanish government, but after Franco’s death he was removed from office by the King Juan Carlos, for his strong opposition to the democratic reforms.

If only those madridistas were as friendly as you, Ike!

Meanwhile, Pérez Estevill starred in a corruption scandal, being convicted under charges of corruption and bribery among other offences. However, Barcelona (which today still considers itself as the most anti-Franco team during that years) had all the favours of the regime in the successive changes of legal status for the lands of the ancient Les Corts Stadium (which permitted to sell them at higher prices). The first favour took place in the 50s by order of Franco himself, and helped to end the financial crisis of the club in that decade. The agreement came to fruition with Antonio María Simarro as major of Barcelona and Francisco Miró Sans as president of the blaugrana team.

The second change of status ressulted in the appointment of Franco’s city mayor José María de Porcioles as honour member of FC Barcelona, and helped the club to pay the debts they had in the early sixties. In 1965, the friendship of the president of the Spanish Council of Ministers, Torcuato Fernández Miranda, and a member of Barcelona’s board of directors, Juan Gich, made possible the third legal status change.

All of these urban operations were possible because of Barça’s abundant contacts within the government, to the point that some presidents of the club were notorious Franco supporters. On the other hand, there was Real Madrid (the alleged «Franco’s team»), Santiago Bernabéu and his long string of reprimands. Every Real Madrid title was won solely on the field.


Whiter than you think: Addressing Real Madrid’s black legend. Chapter 1

Empezamos nuestra esperada serie sobre la leyenda negra del Real Madrid, que se compondrá por entradas bilíngües que podéis enlazar en cualquier sitio inglés (o español) donde veais escritas falacias sobre nuestro club. Esta primera entrega ha sido elaborada primariamente por nuestro colaborador Cannavoro.

Capítulo 1: El 11-1 de 1943. Los golpes que nunca que fueron

Lo que puedes haber oído:

Año 1943, semifinales de la Copa de España, partido de vuelta. El Real Madrid derrota al Barcelona por 11 a 1. Muchos de los enemigos del Madrid tratan de ocultar nuestra espectaular victoria contra el equipo blaugrana utilizando la peregrina excusa de que fuimos ayudados por el gobierno del General Franco. Por ejemplo, aseguran que agentes de la Guardia Civil amenazaron a los jugadores del Barcelona en el descanso por hablar catalán, práctica prohibida brevemente tras la guerra. Otra versión es que los agentes que entraron en el vestuario visitante golpearon a los jugadores. También se habla de representantes del régimen advirtiendo al árbitro de que el Madrid tenía que ganar.

Los hechos:

Todas estas coloridas historias pueden ser refutadas fácilmente con datos verificables:

– Los Guardias Civiles que según la versión antimadridista entraron en el vestuario del Barcelona no pudieron amenazarles por hablar en catalán, puesto que la ley que prohibía su uso en público había sido retirada en 1942, y el partido se disputó en 1943.

– La causa principal de la derrota barcelonista no pudo ser una paliza en el decanso, porque en la primera mitad el tanteo ya era de ocho a cero. En la segunda mitad, el Real Madrid anotó sólo tres goles más, y el Barcelona consiguió marcar uno.
– La única advertencia realizada por el árbitro fue una petición de juego limpio a ambos equipos antes del partido.

Es curioso afirmar que Franco nos ayudara en nuestras victorias durante sus años de Gobierno, teniendo en cuenta el General ganó la guerra en 1939, y que el Madrid no no consiguió hacerse con la Copa hasta 1947 y la Liga hasta el año 1954. Por el contrario, durante el mismo período el Athletic de Bilbao y el Barcelona, equipos situados en dos de las regiones más supuestamente antifranquistas, fueron los clubes que ganaron más títulos (una Liga y cuatro Copas el Bilbao, cinco Ligas y cuatro Copas el Barcelona). Refiriéndonos al partido de este capítulo, resulta difícil entender por qué Franco nos habría ayudado a ganar en el encuentro contra el Barcelona, pero luego nos dejaría perder en la final de Copa contra el Bilbao (1-0). Vaya desperdicio, ¿no?

Bernardo Salazar, uno de los historiadores deportivos españoles más reconocidos (seguidor del Atlético de Madrid), ha explicado cómo jugadores del Barcelona que jugaron aquel día le aseguraron que nunca recibieron presión alguna de las autoridades para perder el partido. Se trata concretamente de José Escolá, que jugó los 90 minutos, y Domingo Balmanya –comentarista muy habitual en los medios deportivos-, que no jugó pero estaba en el Viejo Chamartín junto con sus compañeros.

Lo único verdadero de toda esta historia es el ambiente infernal creado por los seguidores blancos (se distribuyeron silbatos entre los espectadores a la entrada del campo). Esto es comprensible teniendo en cuenta las circunstancias del partido de ida, con dos goles de Barcelona claramente ilegales y uno válido del Madrid anulado incorrectamente, con la excusa de que ya se había pitado el final del primer tiempo (aunque nadie escuchó el silbato). La presión del publico en el partido de vuelta, combinada con la tremenda capacidad anotadora del Real Madrid, resultó en un gran partido que sigue llenándonos de orgullo, y también estimulando la imaginación de algunos para esconder su vergüenza.

Chapter 1. The 11-1 of 1943. The agression that never was

What you may have heard:

It’s 1943, Spain’s Cup semifinals, second leg. Real Madrid beats Barcelona by 11-1. Many of our enemies try to hide our spectacular victory against the blaugrana team behind some poor allegations of being helped by General Franco’s government. For instance, they claim that some agents of the Guardia Civil threatened Barcelona’s players at half time for speaking in catalan (a regional language spoken in north-east Spain), which was briefly forbidden after the spanish civil war. Another version is that the officers who came into the visitor changing room gave the Barcelona players a harsh beating which left them in very poor shape. There’s another tale involving governmnt representatives «persuading» the referee that Real should win the match.

The facts:

All these colorful stories can be easily refuted with verifiable data:

– The Guardia Civil agents that supposedly entered Barcelona’s changing room could not
threaten them for speaking in catalan, since the law banning its public use had been repealed in 1942, the match taking place in 1943.

– The main cause of Barcelona’s trashing could hardly be a beating by the police at half time, since at the end of the first half the score was already 8-0. In the second half, Real Madrid scored only three more goals, and Barcelona managed to score one.

– The only referee’s warning on record was a call for both teams for fair play.

Taking a look at that era, the notion of Franco helping Real Madrid in its victories over his years of government in Spain emerges as certainly odd: while the General won the War in 1939, Real Madrid wasn’t able to grab a title, the Cup, until 1947, and didn’t win the League until 1954. Instead, during that same period Barcelona and Athletic de Bilbao, two of the clubs based in the supposedly most anti-Franco regions of Spain, were the clubs that won more titles (one League and four Cups for Bilbao and a whopping five leagues and four cups for Barcelona). Regarding the match this chapter deals with, one could hardly undertand how Franco’s men could have helped Real Madrid win Barcelona 11-1 and let them lose the Cup final against Bilbao (0-1). Kind of a waste, huh?

Lastly, Bernardo Salazar, one of Spain’s most recognized sports historians (supporter of Real’s rival Atlético de Madrid), has explained in one of his writings how two of Barcelona’s players in that game assured him they had never recived any kind of pressure of the authorities in order to lose the match. Those players are José Escolá, who played the 90 minutes that day, and Domingo
Balmanya -very assiduous commentator on the media, hardly the secretive guy-, who didn’t play but was at Old Chamartín with his club mates.

The only true thing among this mish-mash of made-up tales is the infernal atmosphere created by white fans (whistles were distributed among the spectators at the pitch’s entrance). This is quite understandable taking into account the first match circumstances, with two clearly illegal goals conceded to Barcelona and a valid goal taken from Madrid with the excuse that the first half was already over (though no one has heard the whistle). The public’s pressure in the second match, combined with Real Madrid’s impressive scoring ability resulted in a great match that to this day fills us with pride and stimulates the imagination of some in order to try and hide their shame.