What would Catalonia be without Barça? According to Enric Calpena, a land and a society very different from the ones we know today. The journalist defines himself as “not fond of sports or football”, however, he sees in the club a historical entity from which portray the events of the Civil War in Barcelonabetween 1936 and 1939, when the sports institution was also in danger of disappearing.
his new novel, ‘At war’ (Edicions 62)start with the execution of the then president of the FCB and deputy of Esquerra Republicana, Josep Sunyol, in August 1936. A death that leaves the team an orphan, with many managers and players untraceable, and with a situation of complete uncertainty about the future that awaits Barça, the republic and the country in general. Given the lack of control, he is the secretary of the board, Rossend Calvetwho takes control of the situation. Not knowing where to go and with the sole intention of keeping his work and his family alive, he will end up becoming a kind of anonymous hero and in the protagonist of the book.
“I have spoken with his family, I wanted to know what his daily life was like, where he lived, what relationship he had with people, his habits (…) It is about vindicate the pillar of the institution, who put up with it. We all remember the big names, but suddenly you meet other people who played a key role in history and who are hardly talked about,” explains the author.
A club punished by Francoism
In the midst of a dramatic economic situation caused by the conflict and with the aim of raising funds, the first team traveled in tour of Mexico and the United States, where they played a total of 14 games during the summer of 1937, for about $15,000. There, in American lands Barça was seen as an ambassador of republicanismwhich was not well received by the forces of the dictatorship, focused on Eliminate any element that made reference to Catalan.
In the following years, and like many other groups, the club became a target of the regime, until it was completely under its control. Its offices, located on Calle Consell de Cent, were bombed in 1938 by an impact that partially demolished the building, and reduced to scrap the almost 300 trophies that the entity achieved in its first third of its life. A change was also imposed in its shield, from which the Catalan flag was removed, and in its initials, which went from being FCB (Futbol Club Barcelona) to CFB (Club de Futbol Barcelona) in line with the Spanishization of its name.
‘En guerra’ reviews the past of Catalonia through the trajectory of a team. A novel that does not underestimate the role of sport in mass movements, but that does not make it the only narrative axis either. “This is not a book only for soccer fans, it is not what matters, it is the narrative engine of a story that goes beyond the games and that can interest everyone,” Calpena clarifies.