Written by Yu Kunita
Photo by http://www.red2000.com/
Feature Image by Getty Images
Ever since Catalonia was conquered by King Philip V of Spain in 1715, Catalonians have made many attempts to gain independence. For example, the Spanish Civil war that occurred in the 1930’s was one of the more famous Catalonian struggles for independence. Although the Spanish government granted a degree of autonomy to this region in 1977, the Catalonians are demanding independence again. This time, with an unofficial poll showing that 80% of the Catalonians are backing independence and Spain’s declining economy, Catalonia is closer to independence than ever before. (“Catalonia’s”)
Although there are many reasons to why Catalonia wants to break away from Spain, the two main factors would be the economical decline of Spain and the massive cultural differences between the two regions. Since the bubble burst in 2008, Spain has fallen into a economic crisis and has found itself a part of the infamous ‘PIGS’(Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain) acronym, which designates nations that were unable to refinance their government and pay their debts during the European debt crisis. While Madrid is struggling financially, Barcelona (a city located in the Catalonia) has stable income from the many tourists who come to capture a glimpse of the Sagrada Familia or to watch the world-famous FC Barcelona play football. From the Spanish government’s point of view, Barcelona is helping out the nation’s collective economic affairs, but for Barcelona, paying the expensive taxes set by the government is not in their favor (their economic contributions to Spain is twice the amount of Scotlands to the UK). On top of that, the two regions have very different cultures; different languages, food, history, background and national characters. Because of these factors, giving Catalonia the independence they desire seems to be a logical thing to do, but there is one thing about their independence that concerns many football fans from around the world. The concern is that FC Barcelona may no longer be a European superpower (Marcin).
FC Barcelona was founded in 1899 and has since been one of the most powerful teams not only in Europe but also around the world. They have had many legendary superstars play for them including, Maradona, Ronaldinho and Messi (who just won the ballon d’or for 2015 which is awarded to the best player of that year). (“Create”) Catalonian independence could introduce several factors that may contribute to a possible decline for the long established football club. One reason is that the Spanish national league, La Liga, is planning to exclude the team if Catalonia becomes an independent country. This could possibly damage the team since they may not be able to find a new league to play in, and even if they do, the team will have to make many adjustments upon changing leagues. Fortunately, FC Barcelona, being a very popular team, many other (leagues such as the French National League ,League 1), are willing to accept Barcelona if it gets excluded. Still, there are many other obstacles they will have to tackle, and one of the biggest is the loss of broadcasting rights and the money that comes with it. A huge chunk of a football team’s income comes from broadcasting rights, and without it the team will not be able to sustain itself. Unless, they make another deal equally profitable with another league (Mail).
The decline of FC Barcelona may not be as significant as the ancient grudge between Spain and Catalonia, but it is true that the football team attracts many tourists to Barcelona, and tourists are a major source of income for this region. So perhaps taking the risk of losing those many fans may not be worth it. Also, as a football fan, not being able to see the rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid FC, which stems from the conflict between Catalonia and Spain, would be a real let down since everytime these two teams go against each other, there is a very special tension. Infact the match between these 2 teams, called the ‘El Clasico’, is among one of the most viewed annual sporting events with about 1.77 million viewers. Still, I do understand the independence that the Catalonians desire is important. So, I can only hope that Catalonia and Spain come up with some sort of plan which satisfies both sides, and just maybe a plan to spare FC Barcelona from a decline.
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