Artículo original: www.anti-barcelona.com
Traducción: 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.
– 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.