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16 JOSEP SUNYOL

That day, Madrid went on to inflict the worstever defeat on Barça, stuffing them 11-1, aided by a scandalous referee. Josep Sunyol. Image courtesy FC Barcelona

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When Francosim fell on the city, the Catalan flag in the club’s emblem was replaced by the Spanish flag, and the club was renamed Club de Fútbol de Barcelona, as part of the Castilianisation campaign. But the end of the war also represented the return of some form of normality, as football was one of the few growth industries in the ‘Years of Hunger’, as the Forties became known. The team managed to win the renamed Copa del Generalísimo in 1942, and the following year were paired with Real Madrid, which had recently been adopted by the regime, in the semi-finals. The first leg took place at the Les Corts stadium and Barça trounced Madrid 3-0. As the Barcelona team arrived at Chamartín (the forerunner of El Bernabeu) for the return leg, they were confronted by an incredibly hostile crowd of falangists, soldiers and other Francoist fauna. Then, as the story goes, while the players were in the dressing room, in came the head of police, allegedly brandishing a revolver, reminding the Catalans that Franco had forgiven their perfidious treachery. That day, Madrid went on to inflict the worst ever defeat on Barça, stuffing them 11-1, aided by a scandalous referee.

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Although by the Sixties, Barça, or at least many of its fans, had gained a reputation as anti-fascists, as opposed to Real Madrid, the club itself was very much controlled by a Catalan elite with more or less close ties with the regime. With the advent of democracy, this elite morphed into dulcified Catalan nationalists, who quietly kept the lid on any uncomfortable memories of the past, refusing to pay homage to their murdered president. The 50th anniversary of Sunyol’s death was completely ignored by the club under the property developer Josep Núñez. It was not until 1996, 60 years after the event, that a vigorous campaign finally convinced the club to honour him, erecting a monolith in the Guadarrama mountains near the spot where he had died and hyperbolically elevating him to the pantheon of Barça heroes as the ‘Martyr President’.

Nick Lloyd leads Civil War tours in Barcelona with the Centre d’Estudis de Montjuïc and runs the website www.iberianature.com

7/21/11 11:19:39 AM

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