1930-39. Struggling against history
FC Barcelona was committed to social, political and cultural reform, initiated by the Republican Catalan government in 1931. The official Club newsletter in October 1932 made the Club’s position clear: “Our club’s popularity undeniably includes elements that are not related to sport.”
At the beginning of the Civil War in 1936 and faced wtih the threat of FC Barcelona being subsumed by elements of the anarchist forces, the Club employees made an important committee decision that ultimately saved the organisation. The committee demonstrated its firm resolve not to break away from its pre-war leadership.
In fact, in November 1937, once the threat of disappearance had abated, the committee resigned and a new Board of Directors was named under the presidency of Francese Xavier Casals.
The 1930s were marked by political instability and general crisis, which inevitably took its toll on FC Barcelona. During this decade, the Club endured many cataclysmic events, which included its founder’s death, the Second Spanish Republic, the Spanish Civil War and the assassination of its president, Josep Suñol. In summary, it was a period characterised by uncertainty, which saw a reduction in membership and the cancellation of some players’ contracts.
GOODBYE TO JOAN GAMPER
On 30 July 1930, Barça received the worst news it had ever had: Joan Gamper had committed suicide due to personal problems. The Club’s founder — a dynamic businessman and sportsman, responsible for the creation and development of a unique football club — had died, aged only 52. The demise of FC Barcelona’s founder was a bad omen for the years to follow.
BARÇA DURING THE REPUBLIC
During the 1930s, society showed more interest in the political meetings than it did in football matches. Barça entered a period of history characterised by its commitment to freedom, democracy and Catalan identity. The new Club statutes, approved in May 1932, redefined the organisation. According to its first article, FC Barcelona was “a cultural and sporting association”. October saw the creation of the Cultural Committee, which promoted activities for members.
In July 1935, the new president Josep Suñol i Garriga made it clear that he believed in political ideals based on Catalan nationalism. Using the motto “Sport and Citizenship”, he emphasised the link between society and sport at FC Barcelona.
Football took second place to political and social events at the time and attendances at the majority of games at Les Corts suffered as a result. The team was not the one that had dazzled years previously and the reality was that FC Barcelona failed to win a single League Championship or Copa in that time. That had to make do with victories in the Catalan Championship.
With Suñol as president, the Club's economy underwent a slight improvement and Barça embarked upon a new sporting policy with the purchase of promising players. The war, however, was a massive setback to the team's seemingly brighter future.
TRAGIC DEATH OF SUÑOL
On 6 August 1936, Josep Suñol was assassinated near Madrid by Francoist military forces. As an MP for the ERC party in the Cortes de Madrid, Suñol had driven from Valencia where he had been as an envoy on behalf of the president of the Catalan Parliament, Joan Casanovas. Josep Suñol was acting as a political figure and not atttempting to sign any player.
At one of the most difficult times ever experienced by Catalonia and Spain, the Club was without a president and in the midst of a revolution.
THE MEDITERRANEAN LEAGUE IS BARÇA'S
During the 1936/37 season, the Catalan Football Federation hosted a tournament in which six Catalan and four Valencian teams played. The competition was held instead of the League tournament, which had been cancelled because of the war and FC Barcelona became the Mediterranean League champion.
The Barça title, however, has been hold since 1939 as the victory for the Francoist dictatorship led to the decree to abolish the championship and to this the situation has not been put right.
TOUR OF SALVATION IN THE AMERICAS
To escape a country in war and at the same time generate much needed income for the Club, Barça undertook in 1937 a tour of the Americas, including Mexico and the USA. Some players would not return to Barcelona. The team was received in Mexico as an authentic ambassador for democracy and freedom. Aside from the prestige involved in defending republican values, the Club also raised 461,799,10 pesetas, a figure that was transferred to a bank in Paris in October of 1937. Later on, the money was used to wipe clean the Club's long-standing debts and to serve as a financial basis to get the organisation up and running again following the end of the Civil War and the victory for the fascist forces in 1939.