A story that is always told between fans of Real Madrid and Barcelona, the two most popular clubs in the world, this story, in short, tells that Franco is the reason for the superiority of Real Madrid over Barcelona and its championships, but is this story true?
Francisco Franco, born December 4, 1892, in Ferrol and died November 20, 1975, in Madrid, is a Spanish military and statesman. During the Spanish War, he established himself at the head of the nationalist camp which won the victory over the Republicans. From 1939 to 1975, he led a dictatorial political regime with the title of Caudillo.
Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, was a major opponent of the Franco regime; its people hated the regime and sought to separate from Spain to assert their independent Catalan identity.
Below, 10 shocking facts about the black history of Real Madrid:
1. General Franco’s relation with football
Like it or not, politics and football have always been closely linked. Of their many meetings, we only remember the most emblematic. Those who changed the history of the sport.
Franco realized the effectiveness of football as a way to distract people and make them forget politics. In times of unrest and dissatisfaction with the system, Franco broadcasting live matches throughout Spain (it was an unusual service at the time), often matches by Real Madrid, so the Spanish people became so preoccupied that he would ignore everything else. Once an exciting football match is organized, public opinion turns to the match even if people suffering from major problems.
Franco also found the solution to his most important problems in football by using Real Madrid. The first is the separatist regions, notably those of Catalonia and the Basque region. The second was a case of European aversion against the general who, despite his country’s lack of participation in the world war, had the stigma of being a Hitler’s friend and the ally of the Italian dictator Mussolini. The general found himself on the throne of a country where some of its parties were trying to liberalize, a country isolated from Europe and the world.
Since then, the whole world has associated Los Merengues with the dictator. At the same time, the public built the image of a “pure” Atlético, representing the poor classes of the capital and suffering from chronic injustice against Real Madrid, a club pampered by the elites.
2. What is the secret of Franco’s hostility to Barcelona?
Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, was one of the main opponents of the Franco regime; its people hated the Franco regime and sought to separate from Spain to assert his independent Catalan identity. Not only that, Barcelona’s hostility to Franco has many causes; in 1938, with the start of the fascists who were advancing towards to win the war, Catalonia was bombed through the air. It was the Nazi air forces that carried out this mission for Franco. In just 3 days, thousands of Catalans were killed. The headquarters of Barcelona club collapsed under the bombing, and the cups won by the club were buried under the rubble. After the shooting, the death penalty was imposed on 25,000 people in the resistant region.
And because the Catalan and Basque regions used the most famous football teams to publicly express their cultural identities and their opposition to the fascist regime, Franco felt that he needed a Spanish football club that reflected his ideologies; he chose Real Madrid, which would become his weapon inside and out.
3. How has Franco used Real Madrid internationally?
After using Real Madrid as a political and diplomatic tool, to increase his popularity and suppress his opponents internally, and to present a brilliant image of Spain on the European scene, Franco began to use the football weapon for this.
Franco nationalized the best players in the world, such as Kubala, Stefano, and Puskas, to present a positive image of Spain to the world, thus strengthening his position in power. He encouraged footballers like Ferenc Puskas to come to Spain because many players left the communist countries.
Consequently, if Spain was forced to play against the Soviet Union, it would be more than just a football match, especially after Franco’s withdrawal from the European Championship in 1960 to avoid a defeat against the Soviet team very strong at the time, because such defeat against the country which supplied ammunition to Catalan Republicans on the left during the civil war, would have a major political character.
4. The assassination of Barcelona president Josep Sunyol by Franco’s mercenaries
On August 8, 1936, Josep Sunyol, President of Barcelona, was killed during the Spanish Civil War by mercenaries of General Francisco Franco, who tightened his grip on large parts of Spanish territory.
Josep Sunyol was a prominent politician, representing the Catalan Republic in the Spanish Parliament and him interested in economic affairs. He founded a weekly called “Sport and Citizenship”. He joined the administration of Blaugrana in 1928, and in just 7 years, he took over the presidency of the club after the players’ dispersion of the team’s golden period: Josep Samitier, Saji, Walter, Vicenç Piera, and many other players.
Sunyol was able, for a record period of one year, to building a foundation for a young team including promising players such as the famous duo Josip Rich and Josep Escola, nicknamed “The Professor” because of his exceptional talent.
General Franco did not like it, he deliberately killed and arrested all Influential figures in the Catalan region, including Josep Sunyol, and appointed Enrique Pinero in his place, whose first decision was to prevent the Catalan anthem and reduce the number of red and yellow lines representing the Catalan flag and using the name of club in Spanish instead Catalan.
The incident is an extension of the hostility between the team of the capital Real Madrid, controlled by Franco, and Barcelona, the official representative of Catalonia.
Sunyol’s journey ended at the beginning of his 38 years, and despite the short term of his mandate as president of Barcelona, which did not exceed one season, he managed to make a breakthrough, and he managed to reach the King’s Cup final, then played the final in Valencia on June 21, 1936, the opponent was Real Madrid, and the match ended for the Royal Club 2-1
5. The Di Stéfano case, a stolen player from Barcelona
Real Madrid’s success at the start of Franco’s reign was very limited, but things changed after the arrival of Alfredo Di Stéfano in Madrid in 1953, the player who changed the Real Madrid history. But how did Di Stefano go to Real Madrid, despite his signing with Barcelona whit FIFA’s approval, and his participation in two games with the Barcelona jersey?
Perhaps nothing embodies Franco’s influence better than the long battle between Barcelona and Real Madrid for Alfredo Di Stéfano. Barcelona and Real Madrid were interested in Di Stefano after he participated in a friendly tournament in Spain with the jersey of the Colombian club Milonarios, but River Plate announced that it who held the rights to Di Stefano, after being fled to Milonarius three years ago during the strike of Argentinian footballers. Barcelona reacted quickly thanks to Catalan lawyer Ramon Trias Fargas, and they easily reached a transfer agreement with River Plate, which still had Di Stefano’s rights according to FIFA.
Franco could not control FIFA, which ignored the unapproved Colombian League and accepted the Barcelona agreement, even allowing Di Stéfano to play for Barcelona in two friendly matches. But Franco took advantage of his control of the state when Barcelona approached the settlement of the agreement, the Spanish legislator passed a law prohibiting the purchase of foreign players, which brought the agreement into the hands of Franco. Due to the nature of the new law, the Spanish Football Federation intervened and proposed that Di Stefano alternate between the two clubs each year.
The president of Barcelona, Enric Martí Carreto, suddenly succumbed to the agreement, reinforcing other remarks accusing Carreto of working for Franco. He quickly resigned from office under intense pressure from the Catalan club, which rejected any agreement linking their club to the Franco’s ideology. The interim board then transferred all of Di Stefano’s rights to Real Madrid in exchange for payment of the amount paid to River Plate.
A month after the completion of the transfer, the Argentine legend scored in his first Classico against Barcelona four goals, and Real Madrid won (5-0). During his career with Real Madrid, Di Stefano has won eight Liga titles, five consecutive European Cups (UEFA Champions League) and other titles.
6. Real Madrid 11-1 Barcelona, the true story of the most controversial Clasico of all time
The biggest result in the history of El Clásico was in the semi-final second leg of the King’s Cup (Copa del Generalísimo). The first leg ended for Barcelona with a score of 3-0!
The final result, 11-4, with the total of the two matches, was approved by the Spanish Federation, but FIFA refused to recognize it and only adopted the result of the first half, 1-1.
What happened in 1943 can mean one of the most important football political interference. Before the return match in Madrid, the Barcelona team was surprised by the assault on the Director-General of National Security, General Franko’s right arm, accompanied by his forces in the Barcelona dressing room before the start of the match, and threatened them, which placed anyone who was not fully loyal to the regime over the circle of suspicion.
Some attribute the reason for the busy atmosphere of the second leg to what happened in the Barcelona stadium on the first leg, which ended in a 3-0 with a large defeat for Real Madrid, and witnessed offensive chants against Real Madrid players, some reports indicate that the voices attack Franco personally, which caused him to interfere in the return match, despite Barcelona apologizing for what his fans expressed after the first match.
However, this apology didn’t convince the Madrid media, which incited to revenge what happened, and the return match saw violent chants that reached the threat of the players, prompting the Barcelona players stayed away from the stadium borders fearing of supporters threats, so the goalkeeper kept away from his goal for most of the match.
Nevertheless, the first half ended with a score of 1-1 which was in favor of Barcelona, so Franco decided to intervene, and one of the army chiefs went to see the players between half time in the locker room and threatened them that if they were not defeated with an overwhelming result, they would be executed, which allowed Real Madrid scored 10 goals in just 31 minutes, and Barcelona were beaten with an overwhelming result as punishment.
In an interview with journalist Xavier Loki, years later, the widow of Barcelona goalkeeper Luis Miró said: “The Real Madrid strikers continued to press as if it a normal match. Miro gave them the ball and asked them to score if they wanted to, as they seemed determined to humiliate their opponents. This led to the biggest result in the history of El Clásico.”
The Madrid media denied all reports that the match was not fair and considered it a normal match.
7. A petition demands UEFA revoke Real Madrid’s first five “False” European Cups
In the era of dictator Francesco Franco, Real Madrid won the Champions League 5 consecutive times from 1956 to 1960! At that time Madrid did not win the Spanish League, but despite that, it qualified for the Champions League, namely that at the time whoever wins the league of his country is the one who qualifies for the Champions League, and only one team qualifies from each country!
Although Madrid has won the Spanish League only twice, it has participated in the Champions League 5 times. Likewise, in 1966, at the time of the dictator Francesco Franco.
A petition calling on UEFA to remove 6 European Cups from Real Madrid won by the team in a period described as “undemocratic” has been published on Change.org. To date, approximately 60,000 people have signed the petition, requesting the removal of the six strokes from the history book of Alfredo Di Stéfano and his teammates. The text says: “We demand, on behalf of sporting and democratic values, the immediate elimination of the five European championships won by Real Madrid between the seasons 1955-1956 and 1959-1960, and also the cup that the team won in 1965 -1966, which has nothing to do with the Champions League as we know it today.