surinenglish

26 June 1987: Jesús Gil y Gil takes over at Atlético Madrid

Jesús Gil y Gil with the famous football shirt in 1998.
Jesús Gil y Gil with the famous football shirt in 1998. / EFE
  • The man who became mayor of Marbella was a colourful but corrupt character who loved to shock and saw no reason for laws to apply to him

On 26 June 1987, Jesús Gil y Gil was elected president of Atlético de Madrid football club. In those days his name was not as famous - or notorious, would be a more accurate description - as when he was mayor of Marbella, but his was a character which always caused controversy whatever he did. His lengthy presidency of the football club was no exception.

Jesús Gil was born in 1933. In the 1960s he was a property developer but was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in 1969 when part of a residential complex he had constructed collapsed, killing 56 people. It was discovered that the building had not complied with safety requirements. Gil only served 18 months in jail, because he was pardoned by General Franco.

His reign at Atlético de Madrid was nothing if not colourful. He got through 39 managers, dissolved the youth academy (of which future star Raúl was a member) because he said there was "no point" in having it, did dubious deals, constantly insulted his own and other teams, punched the director of another football club in the face after an argument and caused shock in a radio interview when Atlético had performed badly and he said he hoped their plane would crash on the way home.

In 1991, to the horror of many local businesses and residents and the joy of others, Jesús Gil and his Grupo Independiente Liberal (GIL) won the local election in Marbella. And then the 'fun' began. For Gil and his family and friends, anyway. Atlético de Madrid also benefited. In what is known as the 'Caso de las Camisetas' (Football Shirts Case), he organised a sponsorship deal by which the players wore the Marbella logo on their shirts. He was later charged with embezzling £2.3 million of taxpayers' money for that.

And there was much, much more. His years in power were marked by continual scandals, he bankrupted Marbella town hall and has gone down in history as Spain's most corrupt mayor ever. He was banned from holding public office in 2002, and died in 2006 with many cases against him and jail sentences still pending.