Sport and anarchism in Catalunya

Sport as a show and sport as an experience.

The former is an elite sport, with marketing and business support, which in the end are its reasons for being.
This kind of sport has played a key role in slowing the advance of the working class movement, acting as a stress relief and restricting the working class in its spare time.
On the other hand, it has also been a way of alienation that avoids important differences such as class ones, to make people unite supporting a banal football team, national team, etc.
The latter is a physical activity with important benefits for the health and physic conditions of those who practice them.
There is no contradiction between sport and anarchist ideology because sport does not have a desire to socially organise but is a playful expression according to rules of mutual agreement.

Sport itself is not about “beating your neighbour” but an effort to surpass adversities. This is how the rival becomes a collaborator or mate for seeking a common goal as much as in the fun as in the physical and mental improvement.


–  Juventudes Anarquistas de León (F.I.J.A), “Anarquismo y deporte”, Germinal Libertario nº2, winter 2009.

organitzeu festivals esportius

The People’s Olympiad.

The Baron de Coubertin founded the modern Olympiad in late 19th Century and the workers’ sports movement was also immediately founded, with a similar structure but with a marked political profile.
Whilst the athletes in the bourgeoisie focused their activity on the show business and the economic variable, the working athletes focused in these 5 rules:

  1. No interest for the competition but self-improvement.
  2. Avoiding the professional sport culture.
  3. Promotion of amateur sports avoiding marketing
  4. Everyone’s access to sport.
  5. Reaching world peace through international contacts.

The workers’ sport had its own Olympiad: the People’s Olympiad. Between 1921 and 1936 five editions were held.
This Olympiad had a program composed not only of sporting specialities but also folk shows, art exhibitions, conferences and debates around social matters.

The Baron de Coubertin accepted once that the people’s sport was closer to the sporting concept itself.

On 1936 the neutral Olympiad was about to take place in Adolf Hitler’s Berlin. He announced a number of changes in the games program, for example the sports federation and belonging to a club was denied to all the Jewish athletes. The Olympic Committee gave their agreement, but many people claimed that Nazi Germany with all that anti-Semitic, anti-socialist, anti-catholic propaganda wasn’t a place for the Olympiad to be held.
The American Jewish organizations and the European Sports federations had the leading role in the main protests.

Meanwhile, in the mid-30s Catalunya, so-called Popular Sport had been gaining strength with the values of equality, solidarity, fraternity, fair play and specially guaranteeing accessibility for everybody, following the workers’ sport rules.
At the same time, these rules helped to fight the fascist ideas and supported democracy.
A Popular Olympiad with a national scope was organised in Barcelona. It had not only the main popular Olympic aim, and also condemned the eventual Olympic Games in Nazi Germany.
This idea was embraced with such an enthusiasm in countries such as France or Belgium that the People’s Olympiad also became international.
23 delegations were registered. The regions and countries without independence from others such as Algeria, Palestine or the Basque Country received a status with the same rights in this People’s Olympiad, which provided all the nations’ freedom.
Three athlete categories were created: elite, expert and amateur, and the women were also encouraged to take part.

Unfortunately, the day after the general rehearsal of the official opening ceremony, on the July 19th 1936 the coup d’état cut short the Olympiad.
On the other hand, Hitler spent all his means in his Olympiad and obtained a total media success. Thus the People’s Olympiad was relegated to the background. Even though in 1937 the substitute of the Barcelona’36 Olympiad took place in Antwerp, with 27,000 athletes entering from 17 countries, with a Spanish team and a Catalan one.

The People’s Olympiad began to lose popularity when the USSR joined the International Olympic Committee to play a leading role in the competition between the two major blocks of the tieme: communist and capitalist.


– Schram, Javko. “Las Olimpiadas Obreras” (original in esperanto). Published in “Sennaciulo”. October 2004.
– Alsina, Guillem. “Otros Juegos Olímpicos: las Olimpiadas Obreras”. October 2007.

It's understood there was no race discrimination.

It’s understood there was no race discrimination.

Women were encouraged to take part.

Women were encouraged to take part, something unusual in those days.

The Jupiter Sports Club.

The Jupiter club was founded in 1909 in the Poble Nou neighbourhood in Barcelona by the Mauchan brothers, factory workers and sons of an English industrialist who introduced football, which was not popular in Catalunya.
During its growth, Jupiter started new sections such as athletics, hockey and trekking, which was the most important and with widespread activity.

The main section was still football with 1924-1925 being its best season, when it became champion of Catalunya and Spain in the B group.

Poble Nou was a working class neighbourhood, republican and with much affiliation to CNT. The CNT trade union was omnipresent in everyday life in the neighbourhood as an adaptation worker for the massive immigration process to a hostile urban environment, ensuring solidarity against labour exploitation, social inequality, police brutality, unemployment and medical leaves. Jupiter became a meeting point for these CNT-affiliated workers. Therefore, during the thirties the Jupiter premises contained a clandestine arsenal. They also took advantage of the team’s journeys to create a distribution network hiding pistols inside the footballs.

Once in July 1936, the Nosotros CNT group members with Ascaso, García Oliver and Durruti –all of them neighbours of that zone- among others, met and prepared to stop the imminent coup d’état.
A couple of trucks from a textile factory of the zone were expropriated and equipped with a machine gun. These trucks stayed parked in the Jupiter football field, meeting point for the trade unionists that fended off the army men that came out the Barcelona quarters. The streets surrounding the football field were full of armed anarchist activists.
The tactic used was to let the soldiers out the quarters making it easier to defeat them.
On the other hand, other Poble Nou neighbours assaulted the Docks quarter on the Icaria avenue using large cable rolls from the harbour as moving barricades, and launching trucks at top speed to push over the quarter gates.
Within thirty hours, the fascist soldiers were defeated and the whole city remained in trade unionists’ hands.

During the war, with the anarchist front displaced in Aragon, Jupiter became an active collaborator of Socorro Rojo, Red Aid, organising the assistance between the many trade unions, working organisations and left-wing political parties.

Later on, as a consequence of the fascist triumph, Jupiter had to modify its badge once again –after having already done so during the Primo de Rivera period- because of showing pro-Catalan connotations: a star and four stripes. There was also an attempt to turn it into a subsidiary team of R.C.D. Español, and Jupiter’s name was changed into Hercules.

– “El Júpiter: futbol rebel al Poblenou”. Anonymous, , April 2012.
– “El Júpiter (Historia paralela de este club de fútbol y del Poblenou)”. Guillamón, Agustín. , July 2004.
– Corbacho, Emilio. “Júpiter i Espanyol, dues històries de política i esport”. , March 2005



Translation revision courtesy of Steve Cedar.

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