Footballer sparks row by wearing Franco T-shirt

The latest signing to Real Jaén FC wore a T-shirt printed with the face of the fascist dictator and after causing a stir claimed not to have a clue who the man was.

Footballer sparks row by wearing Franco T-shirt
Portuguese footballer Nuno Silva has caused a stir by wearing a Franco T-shirt during his first press conference for a Spanish team. Screen shot: ElDiaDespues12Plus/YouTube

He might play on the right-wing but Portuguese signing Nuno Silva got into a right-wing controversy of a different kind on Wednesday when he wore a T-shirt bearing the face of General Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain with an iron fist from 1939 – 1975.

“We were chatting beforehand, signing the contract, and no one realized. It was our fault for not preventing him from going into the press conference wearing the T-shirt. The lad didn’t have a clue who he was,” the football club’s president, Rafael Teruel Lara, said in a statement.


While some areas of the Spanish press blamed the incident on the second division team’s lack of good PR, others were outraged that a footballer would wear a t-shirt emblazoned with the face of the country’s former dictator.

Then there was the more right of centre press who took issue over something entirely different:

“Francoists should be the ones who are really outraged,” wrote daily newspaper ABC.

“Franco never wore T-shirts, he was always dressed much more appropriately.”

Nuno who has moved to Real Jaén from CD Santa Clara in Portugal, took to the team’s Facebook page to issue a public apology:

“Today was my presentation as a new player at Real Jaen CF in the press room of La Victoria,”  the player wrote.

“Given the controversy over my shirt, I wanted to clarify that I acquired it a long time ago in Portugal and never knew the impact this historical figure has to part of Spanish society.

“I lived in Portugal and Angola and I don't know the bulk of Spanish history, so was completely unaware of the significance of wearing that shirt in your country,” he continued. 

“I want to apologize to all those who have felt offended or who have been shocked. At no time have I have tried to make excuses for the ideologies professed by this person. I do not have any political preferences.”

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Spain to exhume bodies of civil war victims at Valley of the Fallen

The Spanish government on Tuesday approved a special fund to exhume graves at the Valley of the Fallen, where thousands of victims of the Spanish Civil War and dictator Francisco Franco are buried.

Spain to exhume bodies of civil war victims at Valley of the Fallen
Women hold up pictures of their fathers and relatives, who were condemned to death during Franco’s dictatorship. Photo: OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP

The Socialist government said it had set aside €665,000 ($780,000) to exhume some 33,000 victims whose remains lie behind a vast basilica near Madrid.

Franco was buried in the basilica when he died in 1975 but his remains were removed in 2019 and transferred to a discreet family plot on the outskirts of the capital.

Government spokesperson Maria Jesus Montera told reporters that more than 60 families and international institutions had called for the exhumation of the victims to give relatives who suffered during the civil war and Franco’s dictatorship “moral reparation”.

Campaigners estimate more than 100,000 victims from the war and its aftermath remain buried in unmarked graves across Spain —- a figure, according to Amnesty International, only exceeded by Cambodia.

Human remains discovered during exhumation works carried out by the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory of Valladolid, in a mass grave where the bodies of hundreds of people were dumped during the Spanish civil war. Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP

Built between 1940 and 1958 partly by the forced labour of political prisoners, the imposing basilica and the mausoleum of the Valley of the Fallen was initially intended for those who had fought for Franco.

But in 1959 the remains of many Republican opponents were moved there from cemeteries and mass graves across the country without their families being informed.

The crypts and ossuaries where some of the victims are buried are inaccessible as they were walled off at the time.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has made the rehabilitation of the victims of the Franco era one of his priorities since coming to power in 2018.

As well as the Valley of the Fallen, his government is also focusing on identifying remains founds in mass graves across Spain.