With Barcelona president Joan Laporta taking aim at Real Madrid’s historical ties with fascist dictator General Franco, we take a look at how he made things that little bit easier for the reigning La Liga champions.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona is a rivalry that is deep-set in Spanish politics, and goes far beyond the histrionics of Guardiola vs Mourinho or the greatness of Messi vs Ronaldo.
At the moment however, the Catalans are embroiled in a referee scandal, after being indicted by a Spanish court in relation to series of payments made to the former vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee, Enriquez Negreira.
President Joan Laporta labelled the accusations a ‘ferocious’ smear campaign, while also taking aim at Real Madrid who he believes have long been “historically favoured” by officials.
He said just this week: “We all know [Real Madrid] have been favoured by refereeing decisions, historically and in the present day,”
“It’s a club that has been considered the team of the [Franco] regime.”
“It’s worth remembering that, for seven decades, most of the presidents of the refereeing committee have been ex-members, ex-players or ex-directors of Real Madrid.
“For 70 years, the people who chose who dispensed justice on the field of play have been people connected to Real Madrid. For them to claim they feel wronged is an unprecedented exercise in cynicism.”
Rather incredibly, Los Blancos fired back over social media by posting a video highlighting Barca’ own links with Franco, citing the inauguration of the Camp Not by government officials, and honouring the military nationalist with medals.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) April 17, 2023
In light of these latest tensions between the nationalist Madrid and Catalonian sentiments of Barcelona, today’s focus is on how a certain General Franco gave Real Madrid the edge.
While Europe was wounded and burning following the outbreak of the Second World War, Spain had a dictator of its own in General Francisco Franco.
The General was a true despot and a man who was responsible for a lot of anti-authority sentiment in Catalonia that still exists to this very day. Camp Nou was the only place where Catalan language was spoken openly. Therefore, we can understand why Barcelona holds a special place in the hearts of the locals.
On June 13, 1943, Real Madrid did something to Barcelona in the Copa del Generalisimo (yes before it was called Copa del Rey), that will forever remain etched into the memories of the Catalan’s followers.
The Blaugrana defeated Real Madrid 3-0 in the first leg before travelling to Estadio Chamartin, Madrid’s humble abode before the Santiago Bernabeu. The Catalans were favorites to reach the final but according to famous historian Joan Barau, the second leg was not a competition to begin with.
Real Madrid get the political edge
According to rumours and accounts from several members of Barcelona’s squad and coaching staff, they were threatened by the fascist police before kick off. The Spanish director of state security threatened the players which pretty much drained them of all the confidence they had.
The game was General Franco’s way of showcasing the full measure of his powers to the Catalans.
Barau says, “In that tie, [at the Bernabeu], Barcelona were overcome by military pressure and people close to the Falange (the nation’s Fascist and National Syndicalist political party), which heated the atmosphere a great deal.”
Real Madrid won the game 11-1. This was a match that is remembered as a match of shame and result that Los Blancos never really boast about because that is one skeleton in the club’s closet they’d rather never open.