'Catalunya is not Spain' – how politics will always divide Barcelona & Real Madrid

In the coming weeks, Goal.com will publish exclusive extracts from Richard Fitzpatrick’s new book, El Clasico: Barcelona v Real Madrid, Football’s Greatest Rivalry.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER A COPY OF EL CLASICO: BARCELONA V REAL MADRID, FOOTBALL’S GREATEST RIVALRY

Barcelona have long been a standard-bearer for separatist sentiment in Catalonia, particularly during General Franco’s 36-year fascist dictatorship, which ended with his death in November 1975.

As coach, Pep Guardiola used to speak in Catalan during press conferences. Seven million people speak Catalan, which is closer to French than it is to castellano, Castilian Spanish.

Dismissive madrilenos call Catalans polacos, or Poles, because of the alien, slurping sound of their language. There is a clause in player contracts at Barca which states that foreign players must embrace the Catalan language.

Perched in the north-east corner of Spain, Catalunya thinks of itself being closer culturally to its Mediterranean neighbours France and Italy than it does to Madrid, off to the west.

Catalans even have an expression for what makes them different to other Spaniards, el hecho diferencial – the differentiating fact. They prize sobriety, enterprise and hard work. They reckon that they have their own yin and yang; that they’re a mix between seny i rauxa, common sense and madness. Barca fans maintain that Guardiola is the quintessence of seny.

“In a way, Johan Cruyff’s way of thinking is the embodiment of rauxa,” says Justin Webster, an English documentary-maker living in Barcelona. “Cruyff when he was a player and coach at Barca was always doing revolutionary things because he came, rather like the Catalan chef Ferran Adria, from a working-class background. Nobody’s taught them to do anything. They start with a blank slate and they invent themselves. That appeals very much to a certain kind of Catalan idea – they’re absorbed with reinventing the nation.”

Winning formula | But Laporta was criticised for over-politicising Barca

A month after stepping down as president of Barca in June 2010, having won two Champions League titles in his seven-year reign, Joan Laporta set up a political party, Catalan Solidarity for Independence, which won four seats in Catalonia’s 135-member parliament in November 2010.

“From the beginning of the 20th century, Barca have always been considered the club of Catalunya,” he says. “Why? Because the board of directors in a general assembly supported the Estatut de Catalunya [a statute which defines its self-governing rights] in the 1930s and during my presidency, in 2006, we supported the new Estatut de Catalunya. Since democracy, Catalan rights are not being promoted, and if we don’t promote our rights, who is going to?

“Of course under the dictatorship, the repression was more evident. The Catalan language was forbidden. But today we are in the same process. Barca are a representative of Catalan culture, a symbolic church for our country. It is a way to promote our feelings, the best possible tool to promote the image of Catalunya to the world. It’s very important because we are giving a cause, a sense to our club, a reason to exist.”

Not many people outside Catalunya appreciate Laporta’s politics. Few around Spain – outside the Basque Country – sympathise with Catalunya’s push for independence, which is so ardently promoted by Barcelona. It offends their notion of a unified nation.

In 2005, for example, there was a damaging campaign to boycott cava, the sparkling wine synonymous with Catalunya, when it refused to back Madrid’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

There are roughly one million Real Madrid supporters in Catalonia. They feel besieged, a bit like a mining camp deep in Comanche Territory. They resent the overbearing separatist politics of Barca, particularly when it leaks into the school curriculum.

“In a lot of public schools in music class, the Barca anthem is taught to the children as if it was a Catalan folk song,” says author and journalist Jose Miguel Villarroya. “This is a problem. It’s the anthem of the Barca team, like the German anthem or the British anthem. It’s not a traditional Catalan song. People in Catalunya support other teams than Barca, like Espanyol and Real Madrid.

“Now there is an agenda. A lot of politicians, bankers and industrialists are trying to create a homogenous society. They say a good Catalan person loves Catalunya. Barca is the image of Catalunya. It is a great team. It wins a lot of trophies.

“The most important thing in Catalunya is Barca. It’s the central column of this feeling. So if you’re not from Barca, you’re not a good Catalan. If you’re from Real Madrid, you’re the devil incarnate.

Real Madrid is the foe, not only against Barcelona but also against Catalunya. “For these people, not all Catalans, Real Madrid represents the old orthodoxy, old Spain. It represents the old enemies – Franco’s time, centralism and restrictions on Catalans’ liberties. This makes it more difficult to be from Real Madrid at the moment.

“The resentment towards Real Madrid supporters is stronger now. They say, ‘Are you a Real Madrid fan? Well, then you are a fascist.’ When I was a child in Franco’s time, this was not a problem because there was no democracy. People couldn’t talk about politics. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Espanyol were only football teams.”

Laporta and his cohorts like to keep politics front and centre, however. “When a Spanish person tells you ‘sport is not politics’, don’t believe them,” he says.

“Only people who have a state feel comfortable with their structures, with their national teams. In that case there is no politics. But in our case, I can’t support my national team – the Catalan national team – in the World Cup. Then football is politics. Of course it is!

I’ve been involved in using football and sport in politics. Think about Cuba or think about the United States. Sport is not politics? My God!”

Follow Richard Fitzpatrick on

To win a copy of El Clasico: Barcelona v Real Madrid, Football’s Greatest Rivalry, answer the following question: How many trophies did Barcelona win during Joan Laporta‘s reign as Barcelona president? Responses must be sent to competitions@goal.com and the winner will be announced in next week’s extract. Last week’s winner: Subham Ghosh

19

10 2012
No Comments »

Your Comment

SSCP   CAS-002   9L0-066   350-050   642-999   220-801   74-678   642-732   400-051   ICGB   c2010-652   70-413   101-400   220-902   350-080   210-260   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   HP0-S42   1Z0-061   000-105   70-486   70-177   N10-006   500-260   640-692   70-980   CISM   VCP550   70-532   200-101   000-080   PR000041   2V0-621   70-411   352-001   70-480   70-461   ICBB   000-089   70-410   350-029   1Z0-060   2V0-620   210-065   70-463   70-483   CRISC   MB6-703   1z0-808   220-802   ITILFND   1Z0-804   LX0-103   MB2-704   210-060   101   200-310   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   1Z0-803   350-001   400-201   9L0-012   70-488   JN0-102   640-916   70-270   100-101   MB5-705   JK0-022   350-060   300-320   350-018   400-101   350-030   000-106   ADM-201   300-135   300-208   300-115   300-101   1Y0-201   200-125   200-125   100-105   100-105   200-120   210-260   200-310   SY0-401   810-403   300-320   400-101   70-533   N10-006   MB2-707   210-060   400-201   350-018   ADM-201   CISSP   1Z0-060   400-051   300-075   MB2-704   100-101   352-001   70-486   300-135   NS0-157   210-260   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   810-403   200-120   400-101   CISSP   300-320   350-018   300-101   210-260   300-208   MB2-707   400-201   SY0-401   210-060   300-070   210-260   300-075   300-101   NSE4   EX200   200-120   CISSP   400-101   810-403   300-320   210-060   300-070   210-260   300-075   300-101   NSE4   EX200   300-115   100-101   220-801   N10-006   642-999   SSCP   100-101   1Z0-803   9L0-012   70-480   200-310   As a professional IT exam study material provider, Gives you more than just exam questions and answers. We provide our customers with the most accurate study material about the exam and the guarantee of pass. We assist you to prepare for almost all the main certifications which are regarded valuable the IT sector.Certifications provide a structure and a reason to learn a new technology and they can help IT professionals boost their resume and keep their skills sharp. Certifications from leading vendors are the first step toward gaining industry-recognized expertise in a relevant domain, and will surely be a valuable asset for any candidate. 1Z0-808   AWS-SYSOPS   1Z0-434   300-070   CAS-002   200-310   640-911   300-075   MB2-704   100-101   210-065   300-075   210-060   400-101   CAS-002   1Z0-425   1Z0-480   1Z0-028   1Z0-465   1Z0-804   LX0-103   MB2-704   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   PCNSE7   1Z0-546   VCS-273   JK0-U21   70-532   210-260   400-251   70-411   N10-006   500-260   640-692   70-980   CISM   200-101   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   1Z0-803