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Barcelona's identity puts them in a tough position

Catalonia is moving towards independence

icon allspanish29 November ~ On Sunday millions of Catalans voted in an election which, beyond politics, could significantly change the landscape of Spanish football. The region's mayor Xavier Trias has suggested that FC Barcelona, seen by many as the embodiment of this movement, may not stay in La Liga if a referendum is passed. "We do not have the possibility of a competitive league," he said after separatist parties received a majority backing. "We would have very few teams and Barcelona will need to join another league. That could be the French or the Spanish one."

 Although club president Sandro Rosell has dismissed Trias' claims, calling them "unbelievable", moving to Ligue 1 or elsewhere remains a possibility, however minor. Cutting their ties with the Spanish Football Federation may give the club no other option but to start a new era. The repercussions of this would go far beyond those which have seen, for example, Swansea and Cardiff play in England divisions. Arguably the sport's fiercest, most compelling rivalry, with current champions Real Madrid, would be lost – and, in turn, one half of a league long perceived as a duopoly. Both teams, not to mention the league, would surely suffer without that competitive edge.

If Barça are to reach an agreement to remain in La Liga, just as AS Monaco compete in France despite being based in a sovereign city state, the effects of independence would still resonate. Their most recent game against Real Madrid, on October 7, gave some indication of the heightened politicisation likely to loom over future encounters. Chants of "Independencia" vociferously rang out, while a mosaic of the Senyera flag – viewed as a symbolic means of refuge, alongside Barça, during the region's dictatorial repression – was formed. There are rumours that the club's away shirt next season will be based on the Senyera's yellow-and-red stripes.

Independence is not as simple, however, as holding a referendum. It remains illegal for the moment and has become a more complicated issue after Catalan president Artur Mas, an influential figure in the campaign, lost seats. This adds to the diplomatic tightrope which the club, from board members to players, must walk: keeping fervent supporters of independence on their side without shunning those only interested in the team's football. Take defender Gerard Piqué's seemingly incongruous tweet before the October El Clásico, which overlooked the socio-economic baggage to argue that "it's just a football game" between Barça and Real rather than Catalonia and Spain.

Two weeks later, Rosell echoed Piqué's words. The president told 1,000 supporters that the separatist Estelada flag – different to the Senyera, which represents the autonomous region without any political slant – would not be officially associated with the club. "Barça will never get mixed up in political issues," he said. "This doesn't mean that this isn't a Catalan club and that of course we will defend our roots and origins, but one thing shouldn't be mixed with the other. One thing is politics and the other is identity. Barça unites us all." On the basis of the past, and what the future may hold for Catalonia and FC Barcelona, those two entities may become further intertwined. Tom Parfitt @tparf

On the subject...

Comment on 29-11-2012 11:46:10 by Lincoln #736657
Barca still believe that in the not too distant future there will be a European league anyway so unlikely to be overly concerned.
Comment on 29-11-2012 15:33:25 by geobra #736776
As well as Monaco, both Liechtenstein (Vaduz in the Swiss second tier)and San Marino (in the Italian third tier)have teams in 'foreign' leagues. So isn't it time that Monaco got itself a national team and membership of FIFA and UEFA?
Comment on 29-11-2012 15:58:37 by ursus arctos #736788
They have a national team, but have never been overly interested in joining FIFA or UEFA, perhaps because the bigwigs in Monaco already plenty of other sinecures (but also because it could put pressure on ASM's arrangement with the FFF).
Comment on 29-11-2012 16:04:14 by Gangster Octopus #736795
Looks like Monaco've got other problems...

BBC Website wrote:
AS Monaco have emerged as leading contenders in the race to sign David Beckham with negotiations expected to begin after Saturday's MLS Cup final.

The 37-year-old is understood to be open to the idea of moving to the principality, having announced his desire to leave Los Angeles Galaxy.

Beckham has also attracted interest from leading clubs in Russia and Brazil.

The former England captain plans to make a final decision on his future by the turn of the year.
Comment on 29-11-2012 17:12:15 by ursus arctos #736839
I can definitely see Monte Carlo being more appealing to Posh than the Sydney suburbs.
Comment on 29-11-2012 21:29:18 by Diable Rouge #736960
If FCB positions itself as a totemic icon of Catalan cultural identity, it can hardly expect to escape the political implications of that position. Granted, the club has always been deliberately internationalist, but as a symbol of a "European Catalonia", it must accept a Catalan League with Gimnastic, Espanyol, etc, as its outlet to continental competition.
Comment on 30-11-2012 07:00:39 by dryroasted #737021
Catalonia covers an area bigger than Belgium and has a larger population than Croatia. It's no city state like Monaco and no mini nation like Andorra. If a place the size of catalonia can sustain independence it can surely sustain its own football league. But of course it won't be as rich...
Comment on 30-11-2012 15:46:05 by Frank Heaven #737161
If Catalonia becomes independent, why should Barcelona be allowed to play in the Spanish or French leagues? They should have to play in the Catalonia league.

If that affects their crowds and revenue, tough titty. Clubs in the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union have had to deal with it.

FC Barcelona have used the Catalan nationalist movement to further their own ends for years; now that independence may be near, they can't disown it.
Comment on 30-11-2012 22:47:03 by Vulgarian Visigoth #737322
All this is a storm in a teacup. Now the elction is over we will hear no more talk of independence...unless Mas fails to form a government and they need to go to the ballot again.

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