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 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.