The voting for the Catalan Referendum which was deemed illegal by the Spanish Government that took place on 1st October of 2017 for its independence from Spain has greatly impacted the lives of many. Not only the lives of the citizens of Catalonia and Spain but also of all the football fans throughout the world. If Catalonia does manage to gain independence after this, it will be a whole new chapter for the football clubs playing in the Spanish Leagues especially FC Barcelona, Espanyol and Girona.
FC Barcelona has been a major power in the world of football especially in the recent years – being the first and only team to win the treble twice in Europe (2008-09 and 2014-15), and the only team to complete the sextuple by winning all of the six possible competitions in 2009. It cannot be understated that if the referendum is passed, football as we know it would be affected. The immediate effect on Catalan football teams would be the ousting from the Spanish League. Though Catalonia can establish its own domestic league, it does not have big teams under its management compared to the likes of teams in La Liga, and to force these teams to play in an almost second tier league cannot be justified. It has been widely suggested that the La Liga should allow these teams to continue to participate in their league, though Spain has maintained a stand that these teams will not be allowed to compete in La Liga if Catalonia does gain independence. There are instances where European leagues have allowed teams from other nations to play in them. Notably, the Welsh football club ‘Swansea City’ plays in the Premier League, while ‘Monaco’ plays in the French football league, Ligue 1. Javier Tebas, the president of Spain’s Professional Football League, which organizes La Liga, has said “Barcelona cannot choose where it plays if there is an independence process in Catalonia,” which is bad news for FC Barcelona as it would have to find another way to play in a competitive league.
FC Barcelona could compete in the Premier League or as the former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls suggested in 2015, that FC Barcelona could play their football in Ligue 1 should Catalonia gain independence from Spain. “Monaco play in Ligue 1, so why not Barcelona?” Valls had told the media. It is also possible that FC Barcelona would be taken in by Italy’s Serie A. The repercussions of not letting FC Barcelona compete in La Liga would be disastrous in nature, especially if they are not accepted in any other major league competition. Even then, the most awaited and “the best club football match” as dubbed by football experts between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid C.F., the El Clasico would be dearly missed by the whole football community all across the world. The rivalry between Real Madrid’s Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Messi, played out to its extreme in El Clasicos which is a spectacle to behold, would damper too. The likes of Messi, Iniesta, Busquets, Luiz Suarez of FC Barcelona would be questioning their future at the club amid all this if the club cannot be guaranteed a Champions League spot.
The riots on the streets of Catalonia’s capital as well as in parts of Spain led to the match between Barcelona and Las Palmas to be played under closed doors meaning an empty stadium after Barcelona had asked La Liga to postpone the match because of the security threats that pose due to the rioting of protestors both for and against the secession from Spain.
As an avid Barcelona fan, the thought that my beloved team might get disbanded because of the secession, is horrifying. Not only as a Barcelona, but football lover, I can’t possibly imagine the world being deprived of the joys of watching one of the, if not the best team in the world. Messi and Ronaldo’s rivalry has been one to watch where they have a combined 9 Ballon d’ors between them with Messi having the one up over Ronaldo, I’m sure even a Real Madrid fan would agree with me on this. With all my heart, I want La Liga to allow the Catalan teams to compete in the league as it would be injustice to not only these teams but to football as a whole.
The fate of these clubs will only be decided after the Spanish Government has dealt with the referendum which it has currently deemed illegal and unconstitutional.