Copa del Rey: Levante to seek validation of 1937 victory
The Spanish Football Federation has never recognised the Copa de la España Libre, played during the civil war, but FIFA documents may change that.
Levante, who celebrated the 110th anniversary of the club on 9 September, have been rewarded with an unexpected gift that may lead to the Frogs having their 1937 Copa win recognised by the Spanish Football Federation.
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has consistently refused to award the 1937 Copa de la España Libre (The Free Spain Cup) to Levante on the grounds that it was not an official tournament due to the suspension and division of the same organization on account of the Spanish Civil War.
The RFEF last refused Levante’s petition in 2009 but a decade later documents have been uncovered by the Centre of Investigation of Spanish Football History and Statistics, dated November 1937, that show FIFA accepted the existence of two separate football authorities in Spain as a result of the 1936 military uprising against the Second Spanish Republic.
With General Francisco Franco’s forces bearing down on Madrid and the front effectively dividing the country in two between Nationalist and Republican strongholds, the Spanish Football Federation split into two parts, with one headquartered in San Sebastián and the other in Barcelona. The Copa de la España Libre, which was only ever contested once, fell under the remit of the Barcelona-based organization, which organized the tournament and accepted teams inscribed at the Federation’s offices in Barcelona.
Levante beat Valencia 1-0 in the final played at Montjuïc and have since then asked that the Copa de la España Libre should be considered the equivalent of the Copa del Rey, which was not played in 1937 and 1938 while the war raged on.
Sevilla and Levante could be awarded Copas del Rey
When Franco’s Nationalists seized power in 1939 the two RFEF subsections were merged together again and the Copa del Rey, which was first played in 1903, was renamed the Copa del Generalísimo, returning to its original denomination in the 1976-77 season after the restoration of democracy following Franco’s death in 1975.
Now, with the fresh evidence of FIFA’s recognition of the Copa de la España Libre available, Levante will lobby the RFEF again to recognise their 1937 triumph (listed on Wikipedia) as a Copa victory. The official stance of the governing body is that all games played during the civil war should be classified as friendlies.