The 'discontinued' party 27 years later

Enrique Ortego


How many games has the national team played in its 100 years of life? The exact figure should not offer any kind of doubt and the figure that the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) points out in its record and in its official books should be considered good and correct. However, doubts exist precisely because it was the federation itself that in 1954, in its official yearbook, discontinued a game that until then was considered to be of the 'A' Selection to convert it into a category 'B'.

Hence, many historians and statisticians maintain the theory that Spain has played 703 matches between officials and friendlies, the last against Romania on 11-18-19 and yet the RFEF considers that they are 702 due to the rectification explained. There are even some scholars who downgrade another match that is not without controversy, the Guinea-Spain played on 16-11-2013 in Malabo and that FIFA did not officially count for its qualifying ranking for not meeting all the requirements: it was refereed by a local referee and not by a neutral one.

Guinea-Spain is also in question because the referee of the game was Guinean.

The journey back in time takes us no less than until the spring of 1927, when the National League Championship had not even begun and the National Team matches, although few, had the greatest interest from the media and fans. For the reasons of those times, due to lack of organization, resources, last minute delays and vested interests, the Federation found that by May 29, its national team had to play two friendlies.

Opening match in Bologna

The Spanish National Team goes to Bologna to inaugurate the new Stadio de Il Littoriale. It is the King of Italy who presides over the meeting. The Infante don Alfonso is on his right and the cardinal of the Italian city on the left. Some 70,000 spectators witness the crash. Above you can see the entrance of the match.

In fact, the four he played that year piled up in 32 days. The first was on April 27 against Switzerland (1-0) and the other three in that prolific month of flowers, in which on February 22 he beat France in Colombes (1-2) and on the 29th the two games of discord against Portugal and Italy.

As unprecedented and unusual, the situation sparked a controversy that is still dragging 93 years later. By way of means, the enlightened on duty that 27 years later it occurred to him that one of those matches, that of Portugal, could not be considered as the absolute National Team and that he should be declassified from the list of winners with the consequent shakedown. The order of the matches that was reflected in the federal yearbooks themselves had to be altered, subtracting a victory, two goals in favor and the internationals who defended the red shirt that afternoon in Madrid, taking away the record from their record almost 30 years later.

The worst unemployed, without a doubt, were those who lost the international award because that meeting had been the only one of their career and disappeared from the official ranking in which they were recorded until 1954. They are the cases of six players: Perelló (Sans), Garrobé (Valencia), Corulla (Barcelona), Gonzalo (Racing de Madrid), Molina (Valencia) and Moraleda (Real Madrid).

The technical trio of the time with the journalist José María Mateos as the maximum person in charge facilitated two different summoned lists for the parties of France and Italy and the one of Madrid against Portugal. Mateos traveled to the first two and Manolo Castro, known for his chronicles signed with the nickname of Handicap, took responsibility for the team that played against Portugal.

The Spanish expedition that traveled to Italy took the opportunity to do tourism.

In the posters announcing the meeting in Madrid, it was defined as the V Spain-Portugal and in the official record of both federations it was considered that Spain was going to play its 25th match – Bologna's match against Italy on the same day was 24th – and Portugal the 11th of its history. The Portuguese Federation continues to consider that race as one more commitment of its selection and competed with its best eleven. In the Stadium box, later called Metropolitano, the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII, was present. A circumstance that supports the character of the event.

It is also true and so it must be mentioned that the strange situation created by playing two games on the same day, caused the Press of the time to write in some of its articles that the team that was going to play at home was' I could consider it as a kind of team B '. This assessment could be read in the newspapers both before and after the game.

It was clear that the footballers chosen to play in Italy, despite the last minute casualties, were more common and only one player, Alfonso Olaso, debuted. Only five named for the Stadium had already been international and eight were released.

Precisely who creates more confusion in this regard and may be the origin of the subsequent confusion is the coach himself who years later, in 1950, wrote a book entitled: '9 years of national coach' in which as soon as he points out that the team he played against Portugal he could be considered as 'b', as he does not distinguish between the two matches and mentions and counts all the players equally.

Standing, and from left to right, pose Lemmel (masseuse), Carulla, Óscar, Eizaguirre, Perelló, Moraleda, Molina, Polo and Pedro Regueiro. On his knees, and in the same order, Alfonso Martínez (substitute goalkeeper), Garrobé, Gonzalo, Matías, Pablito Calvo and Sagi Barba. The eleven that defeats Portugal at the Madrid Metropolitan Stadium.

The respected historian Félix Martialay documented his fiery defense that Spain-Portugal was played at the time as one more game for the National Team in the Federation's own yearbooks, with which it collaborated for many years. In the documents that are published between from 1927 to 1953 it is verified how the friendly is considered as such for all purposes until 1954. It is then that it disappears from the yearbook. Meeting 25 is no longer considered and is classified as 'B'. Curiously, the new game 25, is the next commitment (10-1-28) also against Portugal and ends in a draw (2-2).

One last piece of information confirms that in all this process the efforts were not successful. It is truly strange that the game in question, played in 1927, can be classified in 1954 as the first game of the 'B' when the first game of this category was not played until 20-3-49. A Spain-Portugal (5-2) Of course! Then two were played in 1953 and thereafter if there was some regularity in the presence of this combined 'B'.

Chilean Matias Fernandez beats Irish John Gorman and Kevin Braniff at the Bicentennial Nelson Oyarzun Stadium in Chillan on May 30, 2010.

Bielsa's Chile, also two games on the same day

In the 21st century, on May 30, 2010, the 'Roja' in South America, Chile, led by Marcelo Bielsa, improved the feat of playing two friendlies on the same day and both were officially considered by the absolute team … because some players were present in the two games that were played eight hours apart.

Chilean Jorge Valdivia fights the ball to Israelis Avi Strul and Shai Maimon during the game played in Concepcion on May 30, 2010.

Chile, at 15:15, defeated Northern Ireland in Chillan (1-0) with a goal from Esteban Paredes and after finishing the match, traveled by bus to Concepción, 100 kilometers away, where at 22.00 hours they He faced Israel with an eleven considered more starter and won with so many from Suazo, Alexis and Rodrigo Tello. Felipe Gutiérrez and Orellana were the only two players who intervened in both matches.