It’s always a sad state of affairs when politics overshadow sports. A very good case and point is American football and the controversy that is stemming from a number of its players kneeling during the national anthem to protest the growing number of unarmed black men killed by the police.
Barcelona has found itself in a situation similar to what’s going on with American football, although truth be told, their plight has way more far reaching consequences. The city of Barcelona is situated in Catalonia, a province in the north east of Spain. This region is seeking to become independent, which of course means that there will be drastic changes in all walks of life for many Catalan citizens and organizations.
This also means that all of Catalonia’s professional sports teams may find themselves in a situation where they could be booted from the Spanish leagues they have traditionally played in.
So the question now is can Barcelona (Catalonia and arguably the world’s finest football club) leave La Liga and join another league?
How Realistic Is This?
There is an open possibility that Barcelona could play in the premier league. Take note of the specific wording and emphasis on an “open possibility.” A move to a different league would open up a whole litany of problems.
- Would Barcelona go directly into the first division of the league they choose to play in?
- Would they have to play qualifying matches to do so?
- What about the other teams in the division? Would a promotion spot be taken away from a team in the second division?
This list could go on and on. There are many reasons why Barcelona should not leave La Liga, but one thing will always be abundantly clear: Money will be a big factor when Barcelona decides whether it wants to leave La Liga. In that light, there is of course one league where even the relegated teams can expect to get close to $80 million: The Premier League.
When money becomes the deciding factor, the Premier League makes the most sense. Both parties would be happy with the partnership but still, would Barcelona be truly prepared for the travel involved? Barcelona would have to travel more than 1000 kilometres for every away fixture. Let us not forget the fact that teams in the Premier League play far more games than any other league (Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup) which may make the move less appealing.
At best the prospects of Barcelona going to another league are less than 50%.
What Caused The Political Unrest?
For the initiated, here is a brief history of Catalonia and its relationship with Spain. (via newsx.com)
1150: Catalonia and Aragon were united after the ruling dynasts eloped and left the united territory for their successors to rule.
1714: King Philip V was the last ruler who oversaw the territory as united till the creation of modern-day Spain in the subsequent year.
1931: There were continuous protests from Catalonian people to maintain their identity and autonomy but after several failed attempts to suppress this separatism, the then rulers established Generalitat (local government).
1939: General Francisco Franco’s rule began in Spain and he ruled with an iron fist, especially Catalonia. The dictator destroyed the separatists and smothered the autonomy of the region.
1975: Francisco Franco’s power waned and ultimately ended and Catalans were declared autonomous again after 3 years.
2006: A statute described Catalonia as a ‘nation’ and granted greater powers to the supremely rich region.
2010: Several of the autonomous powers were revoked from the region by the national Constitutional Court which triggered the existing anger within the people.
2014: Unofficial polls were conducted by the Catalan government where 80% of the 5.4 million voters expressed their desire to be independent.
2015: Catalans elected separatists into power who backed people’s call for total autonomy from Spain. The elected bodies decided the secession of Catalonia from Spain in 2017 but the Spanish Constitutional Court suspended the plan.
2017: The local government announced in June that the referendum for independence will take place on October 1.
There is no way of what may happen with Catalonia. The Spanish government has refused to acknowledge the result of Catalonia’s referendum, where 90% of voters voted in favour of Catalan independence. In the short term it seems likely that Barcelona will remain in La Liga. A long term solution on the other hand will probably not be reached anytime soon. There is an outside possibility that Catalonia may start their own league but that would perhaps will be a worst case scenario. Time will tell which direction Barcelona will choose to go, but whether they go willingly or unwillingly with the changing tide will be an interesting spectacle to behold.