Saporta: A Jewish genius at the founding of Real Madrid

Saporta01Raimundo Saporta was born in Costantinopla (present-day Istanbul) on December 16, 1926, in the Sephardic family of Thessaloniki, a descendant of the Jews expelled from Spain.1 His father Jaime, a banker, possessed a Spanish passport thanks to a decree Dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera of 1924, by which the nationality was granted to all those who could credit the Hebrew origins.

After the Great Depression, the Saporta moved to Paris and lived there until the outbreak of World War II. Alerted before a hypothetical Nazi occupation of France, Jaime Saporta processed the Spanish nationality of the whole family thanks to the aid of Bernardo Rolland de Miota, consul general. In the same way, the official documentation changed the place of birth to the Gallic capital to avoid any problems.1

The family settled in Madrid in 1941 and within a few months suffered the loss of his father when he was hit by a tram.1 For this reason, after completing compulsory education in the French Lyceum, Raimundo worked for a time in a shop Electrical appliances of the Gran Vía.2 He later began his career at the Banco Exterior de España, where he became one of the directors attached to the presidency until his retirement in 1983.2 3

His older brother, the writer Marc Saporta (1923-2009), preferred to return to Paris when the war ended and adopted the nationality gala.

Raimundo married Arlette Politi Treves (1930-2009), also of Sephardic origin, whom he met in France and who was his partner for the rest of his life.

Beginnings in the Spanish Federation of Basketball
His first contact with basketball was in the French Lyceum as delegate of the school team, when he was 16 years old. In this position he was in permanent contact with the leaders of the Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB) for the organization of tournaments, in which he stressed that the president, General Jesus Querejeta, wanted to appoint him a manager at age 19. However, the statutes set the age of majority at 21. In 1947 Saporta was appointed treasurer and a year later became vice-president.4 The importance he earned in that institution earned him a good relationship with the authorities of the time.

In 1952 Santiago Bernabéu, president of Real Madrid, contacted the FEB to request an adviser to organize a basketball tournament, framed within the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the foundation. Saporta was able to make a home run with international rivals and Bernabéu, astonished by his powers, asked him to form part of the directive of the white club.

Stage in the Real Madrid
Raimundo Saporta joined the Real Madrid board as an accountant in May 1953 and responsible for basketball. A year later he became treasurer. Despite being a short time, he was involved in all the important steps in the history of the entity. One of his first measures in the treasury was to open a savings card to each player, from which he supervised all the expenses. He was also in charge of the renovations. He combined the position in the Banco Exterior in the morning with the sports management In the afternoons, since the members of the directive were not professionals at the time.

President Bernabeu put him in command of the negotiations to incorporate the Argentinean Alfredo Di Stéfano, whose signing was a turning point in the soccer section. However, the contracting was involved in the controversy: while the whites bought the rights to Millonarios de Bogotá, F. C. Barcelona signed a pre-contract with River Plate, which in the first instance owned half the rights of the player. The National Sports Delegation came to a Solomonic decision, for which he would play for Real Madrid the first year and then leave for Barca. But in the end the Barca resigned and Di Stéfano settled in the capital.

Saporta also played a very important role in the creation of the Champions Cup of Europe. During the negotiations was the interpreter between Santiago Bernabéu, the journalist Gabriel Hanot and his superior Jacques de Ryswick. The idea of ​​a European competition similar to the South American Championship of Champions became reality in the season 1955-56.7

In 1962 ascended to the vice-presidency of Real Madrid, becoming the right hand of Santiago Bernabéu.

As far as basketball was concerned, he was the president of Real Madrid Basketball and responsible for its most successful stage in history. Despite having more power than any other member, he had to deal with the board because many of them believed the section was unnecessary. In 1955 he met the coach Pedro Ferrándiz on the recommendation of the secretary of the FEB. After entrusting to him the organization of a successful children’s tournament, Saporta entrusted the inferior categories to him of the white club and in 1959 promoted to him to trainer of the first equipment, position that maintained until 1975. Under his command Real Madrid gained 12 national leagues, 11 Cups of Spain and four cups of Europe. The squad counted on some of the first stars of the national panorama, some of them nationalized Americans: Emiliano Rodriguez, Clifford Luyk, Lolo Sáinz, Wayne Brabender, Walter Szczerbiak, Miles Aiken, Rafael Rullán and Juan Antonio Corbalán.

Another important measure was the creation of the Christmas Tournament in 1965, the most important non-official competition in Europe.4 In that year the basketball section was sponsored by Philips in exchange for television broadcasts. Since at Christmas there was no league suggested a friendly home run for those dates, but the board of Real Madrid refused. To circumvent the ban, he persuaded FIBA ​​to organize it instead of the white club. Spanish television accepted the conditions and Saporta called every year to European clubs, selections and combinations of the American universities.4

Raimundo Saporta remained in Real Madrid until the death of Bernabéu in 1978. The members of the board hoped that, as vice president, naturally assumed the presidency. However, he flatly refused and the one chosen was Luis de Carlos. In an interview he made public his reasons for rejecting the charge:

“Don Santiago once told me that at his death he did not accept the presidency. And that’s what I did. First, because of a lack of personal ambition, and second, because he told me that he would suffer a lot in that position”.

He returned to Real Madrid to take care of basketball at the express request of Ramón Mendoza when he became president. However, the greatest weight on the team fell to Pedro Ferrándiz, director of the section. He held the post until his final retirement in 1991 due to health problems.

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