Scotland’s upcoming independence referendum aka whether the Scottish people will opt towards a new beginning as an independent state or continue with the old order, has sparked century old Catalan nationalist aspirations. Where on Thursday 11th September, National day of Catalonia, a reported 1.8 — 2 million took to the streets of Barcelona in mass demonstration, bringing the city to a standstill, to encourage a Scotland inspired independence vote from Spain.
So what perceived effect will this socio-political environment impact on the current state of football in the unlikelihood that Spain will grant Catalonian’s their much wanted independence?
Will FC Barcelona and other Catalonian teams still be able to compete within the upper realms of the Spanish football divisions or will a new Catalunya league be etched out?
These questions remain to be answered, however early indication from leading figures in the Spanish game say that it would not be possible for Catalan teams to compete in La Liga.
However this could be simply scaremongering as FC Barcelona are one of the most popular and important teams in Spain. Moreover, FC Barcelona is intrinsically interwoven with Catalan identity becoming as much part of their identity as their language, which is vocally expressed during games at the Camp Nou. Even during the times of Franco when Catalan language was severely repressed, the Camp Nou was a venue where people could verbalise in their regional tongue. This further reiterates why the Clubs motto is “More than a club”.
In a recent match against Bilbao, who are also a club that has a strong affinity to their region (Basque), FC Barcelona stepped onto the Camp Nou pitch wearing the colours of the Catalan flag (Senyera) instead of their iconic blue and red for the first time in their history. It can be argued that this is a move by the club to further associate themselves with the Catalan independence movement.
However a statement released by the club has stated that this is not infact the case and “The Senyera shirt is not being worn because of September 11,” the statement said. “We are doing it to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the fall of Barcelona at the hands of the troops of Phillip V and the French in 1714.” The match ended with a 2 -0 win for FC Barcelona with a non-Catalan, Neymar scoring both goals.
If Catalan Independence is obtained then a definite change will occur in the team sheet of La Roja. With many of Spain’s top stars being born in Catalonia such as Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets.
These players are a part of a number of players who have already featured for the Catalan national team which has played over 200 matches in its history often consisting of friendly games against other nations, clubs and regions.
They are not however allowed at this stage to compete in any FIFA or UEFA competitions because it is currently regarded as a region in Spain and not its own sovereign state. Nonetheless, judging by team sheet alone of whom they have available and the continued production of talent through Barcelona’s famed youth system, La Maisa, Catalonia could become one of Europe’s elite national sides alongside France, Germany, Italy, and former masters Spain, hypothetically of course.
Regardless of whether Scotland will pick yes or no, it has become a new beacon of hope for Catalan nationalists who aspire for the freedom to be able to make a decision on their politically autonomy from Spain. So if Catalans get their wish of an independent state, Scotland’s decision on September 18th was a catalyst.