Real Madrid

Real Madrid
   Founded in 1902, Real Madrid began to overtake Barcelona FC and Athletic de Bilbao as the leading Spanish football team in the early 1950s, and especially after it acquired the Argentinian player Alfredo di Stefano in 1952 in somewhat controversial circumstances. Favoured by Franco, to the extent that it was known as "Franco's team", it became identified with the regime, while the Barcelona and Bilbao clubs and colours became synonomous with Catalan and Basque separatist aspirations. A special stadium had been built for the club in the Chamartín district of Madrid in 1947, a few years after Santiago Bernabéu became president in 1943, and was named after him in 1955 after it had been extended to hold 100,000 spectators. The team won its first League Championship in 1954, and won the European Cup five years in succession between 1956 and 1960. Real Madrid continued to maintain a dominat-ing position in First Division football, being especially successful in the 1960s, when it won all but two of the championships, and in the second half of the 1980s, when it again won five times in succession, so that by the end of the 1994–5 season it had surpassed its nearest rival, Barcelona, by twenty six titles to its fourteen. In 1996, however, a series of crises, resulting in the departure both of its coach, Jorge Valdano, and of its president, Ramon Mendoza, together with the financial problems common to many Spanish clubs, resulted in a drop to sixth place. It recovered its premier position in 1997, but its debts continue to mount alarmingly, due in part to the spiralling cost of transfer fees. The club has also had many successes in the annual competition for the King's Cup (Copa del Rey) within Spain (though Barcelona and Atlético Madrid have a better record in this particular contest), and is among the record holders for victories in the European Teams Cup (known as the Recopa in Spain).
   See also: football; sport and leisure

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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