In Memoriam: Josep Lluís Núñez

Yesterday, at Diario AS’ headquarters, I watched television images of Barcelona players attending the funeral service for the late Josep Lluís Núñez – the man who was Barça’s president from 1978 until 2000 (I’ll come back to that later). The way in which the players were dressed for the event reflected the casual air which hangs over the squad these days. People can dress however they want of course, but there are certain situations when wearing the appropriate clothing expresses respect for the occasion – for example a wedding, a social event - or the funeral service for the man who presided over your club for more than 20 years. They'd be within their rights not to attend at all, but if you do go...

22 years in office

Anyway, more importantly than chiding what otherwise, are a decent group of lads, for their attire, it’s worth remembering what Núñez represented for Barça. He was elected president in 1978, the same year that Santiago Bernabéu passed away, and he remained in the post until 2000, just before Florentino was voted in at Real Madrid. What he did for the club is well documented. Looking back at that time with perspective, we need to consider the dimension of everything he did for the club. It’s worthwhile noting that for a brief period of time, he refused point blank to allow Barça’s games to be televised - because when he first came to office, the only club who benefitted from broadcasting rights from Spanish State television was Real Madrid, for their offer of football and basketball.

Josep Lluís Nuñez, president of the F.C. Barcelona Núnez celebrates a Barça goal at Camp Nou.

Putting Barcelona on a level with Madrid

It’s also true that he wasn’t the world’s most eloquent president but he governed Barça with two resolute criteria – to keep the club away from the politics of the day and to try and find new ways of financing the institution. Without straying from those guidelines, he elevated Barça from the club it was back in 1978 to what it became in 2000. The club which Barça would go on to become was built on the back of the influence which he injected - because he challenged Real Madrid’s institutional power which, back then, seemed out of reach. I guess time will do him justice, and he managed to at least put Barça on a level pegging. Today, on the pitch and off it, Real Madrid and Barça are on a par, shoulder to shoulder – but when Núñez first arrived, that wasn’t the case.