Fifty years of the Guruceta scandal

“When a referee is so kind, something prepares,” wrote Manuel Vázquez Montalbán in his Barcelona-Real Madrid report corresponding to the return of the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey in the Triunfo magazine entitled “Night of love and war at the Nou Camp”. The “friendly” referee, at least until minute 14 of the second half, was called José Emilio Guruceta Muro and fifty years ago today he organized a scandal of biblical proportions that among other things caused the resignation of the national sports delegate, a certain Juan Antonio Samaranch, to the president of the Referees Committee, José Plaza and made the name of this Basque referee a synonym for arbitration robbery. Guruceta was challenged by Barça in perpetuity and spent 14 years without directing a match at the Catalan club.

The wishbone that unleashed the most devastating storm that arbitration has experienced in Spain is summarized in a lack of Rifé to Velázquez outside the area that Guruceta turned into a penalty. But that is only the tip of the iceberg, the drop that filled the glass. To understand what happened it is necessary to get an idea of ​​the situation.

Season 69-70. The previous year he had ended the infamous ‘bottle final’ in which Barcelona had won the Cup against Madrid at the Bernabéu with a disputed arbitration by Rigo, a Majorcan referee famous for favoring Barça. The calendar decrees that the first game of that campaign is a Madrid-Barcelona match at the Bernabéu that will be officiated by Ortiz de Mendíbil, “in the eyes of Barça, Madrid's chamber referee,” according to Alfredo Relaño in his book “Born to bother” . This referee is the one who extended a game for nine minutes that Madrid needed to win.

In that opening match of the League, Bustillo, a brand-new signing of Barça, ahead of the Blaugrana with two goals, the locals tied and with the match equalized, the white central defender De Felipe violently entered the Barça attacker. An entry that the referee does not consider or lack. Furthermore, as a result of this move, six Blaugrana players are booked, including Bustillo himself, who, as will be seen later, suffers “total rupture of the inferior insertion of the internal lateral ligament in its two superficial and deep layers, peripheral disinsertion of the internal meniscus. and rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament ”. Bustillo did not play again that season and in the following two he played two games. He never scored a goal for Barça again. That entry removed him from football.

In this context came the Cup confrontation, which was played then once LaLiga ended, between Barça and Madrid. Both teams had completed a disastrous League: the Catalans finished fourth and the whites sixth. Barça was used to tightness, it had been 9 years without winning the League, but for Madrid the Cup was essential because it was the only option not to stay out of Europe for the first time in its history.

So in this context – the final of the bottles of the previous year, the injury of Bustillo and two great ones in distress – came the Cup tie. In the first leg, Zariquiegui, another referee considered friends of Madrid and the Whites win 2-0 with a second goal from Amancio offside according to all the chronicles of the following day.

The return match comes in a hellish environment. In Barcelona there is talk of going back “Zariquiegui's goal” and the Camp Nou presents the best entry in its history. The Blaugrana team came forward with a Rexach goal, Barça besieged Madrid's goal in search of the second goal based on fouls that, according to the Chávez Vázquez Montalbán report, were “exaggerated around the Madrid area (…) and when a referee is so kind, something prepares

In the midst of the Barcelona attack, the white defense clears a ball that encourages a Real Madrid counterattack. Velázquez, sublime white player, but as technical as not very fast, challenges Rifé, the fastest of the Barcelona fans, in the race. Before reaching the area, Rifé snatches the ball from him, Velázquez falls inside the area and Guruceta, who was in the center of the field poorly placed, points out a penalty. The world is bundled. Eladio is sent off, Amancio scores the penalty and Barça tries to leave the field.

“The pads already look like poppies among the green wheat fields. The Armed Police stands up to locate the launchers ”, writes Vázquez Montalbán. Guruceta stops the game continuously to remove pads and Barça is unable to overcome that blow. The game ends and the field is invaded. Guruceta leaves the Camp Nou in the uniform, tricorn included, of the Civil Guard to avoid the waiting crowd.

The scandal is outrageous. Even the Madrid press acknowledges that the penalty was outside the area, but Santiago Bernabéu declares “But what are they complaining about? It was a penalty like a house!” Madrid's official magazine repainted the stripes in the area to make it appear that the fault had been inside.

Barça's complaint is tremendous. They perpetually challenge Guruceta who will be 14 years without refereeing the team, Guruceta is sanctioned with six months, causing the resignation of the Plaza, head of the referees, Barça is saved from the closure of the Camp Nou and Samarach resigns from his position as national sports delegate, naming Juan Gich i Bech de Careda, who had been the manager of Barça, who provides a grant to build the ice rink.

The paths of Guruceta and Barça are separated forever. Guruceta happened to be a very popular referee and, according to Relaño “more than once I saw him make mistakes for the benefit of Madrid, particularly in a Cup match at the Bernabéu in which he canceled two goals against Atlético, I still don't know why

In 1997, ten years after he lost his life in a tragic road accident, Anderlecht President Constant Vanden Stock confessed to Belgian justice that he had bribed Guruceta with a million Belgian francs on the occasion of his team's UEFA Cup match against Nottingham. Anderlecht was expelled one year from European competitions, Vanden Stock was sanctioned for life and The award for the best Spanish referee is named after Guruceta, the “friendly referee who prepared something”.