Levante UD and the Copa del Rey

Levante UD is Valencia’s second team, currently mired in the middle of the 2nd Division table. Their games are in held in the Stadium Ciutat de Valencia, in the northern neighborhood of Sant Llorenç.

Two weeks ago we tried to go to the game against Betis, only to realize that we had no cash on us, and credit cards weren’t accepted. By the time we found a cash machine, it was too late and we opted for a pub.

Loved by Valencians, Los Granotes have enjoyed a decent amount of success over their century of existence, but never won a major title … except for an unrecognized national Cup victory in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War. Despite 7 decades of fighting for official acknowledgement of their victory, the title remains off the books.

In 1937, the country was in full blown war. The republican states along the Mediterranean had organized a league and a tournament, called the Free Spain Cup. Just four teams participated, and Levante defeated Valencia CF in the final, 1-0.

When Spain fully fell into nationalist hands in April 1939, the governing sports body refused to recognize the legitimacy of the 1937 tournament. For the past 70 years, Levante has been fighting for credit as the champions of Spain, just as Sevilla were recognized for a 1939 cup victory contested only among nationalist lands. But so far their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

It’s still a politically charged topic, and an interesting look back into sports during and after the war.

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