The parliament is a place to talk about politics. The stadium is a place to watch football. Yet this has not ocurred in Spanish politics regarding the Catalán conflict. The main problem is that neither the central government, nor the Catalán government have ever made a sincere effort to sit down and talk.
Where talking of a kind goes on is in Camp Nou. Here, supporters vent their feelings and frustrations by unveiling Catalán flags and brandishing banners during the games. The pitch has become an echo chamber for the “Catalán cause” of which very few people truly know much about. The bald truth is that politics is very much instilled in Catalán football more so than in any other part of Spain.
During each and every fixture at Camp Nou, after the first fifteen minutes and fourteen seconds, the crowds forget what is happening on the pitch and sing a wild cry for “independence”, done in a nod to the end of the Siege of Barcelona in 1714.
Yet, what do the fans really know about the Siege of Barcelona which lasted almost 14 months? Do they know that it was the last piece moved on the chess board, a game that was started on 1st November 1700, the day King Charles 11 of the house of Austria died leaving no descendants? More importantly perhaps, do they know that the Spanish War of Succession was in fact the last chapter in what might be described as the very first World War? Do these fans bursting their lungs in a bid for “independence” know that this war extended to the Americas claiming 1,251000 victims in Europe alone, half a million of which were French?
While Barcelona FC has stayed away of openly backing a Catalonian secession from Spain, it has conveniently admitted that it “will contrive to support the will of the majority of the Catalán people” (whatever that means). At the same time, the club wants to avoid any risk of losing access to the lucrative Liga just as Britain, The Netherlands, Portugal and France did not want to lose a piece of the pie in trade with the Americas over 300 years ago.
In politics, the battles remain the same. Are we now going to see the same battles in football? Barça, what are you doing to the sport?