Today I want to write about something that happened many years ago, and that a lot of people in Spain (mostly Madrid supporters) tried to hide for decades. The day that Real Madrid beat Barcelona 11 – 1 in one of the most controversial games of soccer history.
It was June 1943, F.C Barcelona was heading to the Chamartin stadium to play the semifinal of the Copa del Generalisimo, what today we know as Copa del Rey. The first leg played at Les Corts (Old Barcelona stadium) ended 3-0 for the Catalan team, an easy game for F.C. Barcelona where they basically humiliated Real Madrid. Nobody expected what was going to happen in that second leg, after 45 min Real Madrid was winning 8-0, the final score after 90 minutes was 11-1. Was Real Madrid 10 times better than Barcelona? Did the Catalan team have a very bad day? How could that happen!?
The rise of the dictator Franco
Franco led the neo-fascist movement in Spain during the Civil War. At the end of it, he proclaimed himself ruler of Spain and put in jail or killed anybody who was against him.
There were two regions in Spain that always fought back and never considered themselves fully Spanish, these two regions are Basque Country and Catalonia. Athletic Bilbao and F.C. Barcelona are still the two main teams in these two regions, and both teams supporters always display rebellious behavior when it comes to showing their own identity against the Spanish institutions.
Before the Civil War, Franco already had adopted Real Madrid as his team. When he finally became Spain’s dictator, he did all he could to make Real Madrid the most powerful team in Europe, at any cost.
The day arrived, when F.C. Barcelona arrived in Madrid, they were treated like they were subservient, literally. Most of the country basically hated Catalonia since it was one of the only two regions that was still standing against the brutal oppressor. Right before the game, when the players were already in the dressing room getting ready to start, something unexpected happened.
The head of state security broke into Barcelona’s dressing room with a Guardia Civil (Spanish cops) squad, and threatened Barcelona players at gunpoint. The players and staff were told to lose that game, otherwise the Guardia Civil wasn’t going to be able to guarantee their safety at the end of the match. F.C. Barcelona had to quit the competition losing 11-1 against Real Madrid, and of course act like nothing happened after the game.
After the event, the Spanish media acted like everything was normal, like that 11-1 was something that happened because Real Madrid played really good soccer against a Catalan team that might have been just lucky in the first leg. But what’s even more shocking is the cover-up that ensued. The Spanish government, instead of acknowledging and admitting what was done that day, tried to cover it as much as they could by destroying any file related to that event and never talking about it again in any public media.