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June 2021

Will the power in European football shift soon as a result of Catalan independence?

By Walter Broeckx

Having just returned from my holiday in Spain/Catalonia I think we might be at a turning point not just in geography but also maybe in the football world.

First I have to say that when Barcelona got Cesc I vowed to never go back to Catalonia as long as they had him. I stuck to this promise but now Cesc is away from his DNA I can go back to the region I have liked for most of my life.

Was it because it was the first real holiday travel my wife and I made more than 30 years ago? I don’t know but I loved it there from the first minute and still do. When we were there some 10 years after the death of dictator Franco you could see the first signs of the re-awakening of the Catalonian feelings. Gradually this grew over the years as I could witness when visiting. What was completely all in Spanish at first now is completely in the Catalan language with Spanish at best being mentioned after that.

I know this is a football blog and will get to that in a moment. But first I should say that if a people like the Catalans who have their own government and language want to express their democratic right to say what they want to do with their future, I can only accept that desire and respect and want to give them their chance to do so. The UK had the same problem a few years ago when the Scottish people had a referendum and I think the UK has earned a lot of respect by letting it go ahead.

While in Catalonia I had the TV on my room and to kill of those dead moments, and I turned it on to see what was happening in the world. And all the news channels in Spanish and Catalan there was one subject day and night: 1-0 as it was called. I first thought it was the final score of the last Classico between Real and Barcelona but it was dated 1 October. The day the referendum should take place. How that will develop is not for me or for this blog.

But what is also at stake and I have seen the debates on TV in my hotel room is that if the Catalans do as they did in 1934 and declare their independence the football world and hierarchy will be turned upside down. It might be the end of the world wide attraction for both Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Part of the attraction is that Spain is a magnet for young South American footballers, and their aim is to join one of those clubs that plays in the famous El Classico (or Debtico). ย  And the reason the best players of the world end up in one of those teams is because of those clashes that are televised worldwide.

But the message in the TV shows that I could understand was that if Catalonia moved out of Spain it would mean that Barcelona and the other Catalan clubs should leave La Liga and form their own league. And I have seen Barcelona board members say that they would indeed leave La Liga and go along with the rest of Catalonia on their way to independence.

This would mean the end of El Classico. At the moment there are only 3 Catalan clubs in La Liga and this would make a Catalan league a bit like the Bundesliga but even worse. Barcelona would win the title each year by January 1st. Now this might be fun for a while but in the long run this is hopeless. And I can’t imagine young kids waiting to see Barcelona-Figueres or Girona as the biggest game of their live.

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The same could go for Real Madrid who gets a lot of their publicity from playing Barcelona. But with the other 17 Spanish teams you can still form a good league I would syuggest. Probably Real Madrid will win it nine out of ten times but every now and then Atletico might have a chance of winning one.

But if both clubs suffered from not having the attraction they used to have it might change the map in the whole footballing world. Winning against lower placed teams is fun for a while but not attractive in the long run.

It also may result in a lower performance level after a while. When you win each match too easy you forget how to win when it gets tough in let us say a CL match.

So what looks like a local referendum might end up in changing the order in world football in a few years time. Who would profit from this? Well we don’t know but maybe both Barcelona and Real Madrid will try to form that European super league we hear about every now and then. Because they will try to regain that worldwide El Classico benefit they are used to and will try to play each other again as much as possible.

How this will pan out in the end is not known now. Will the referendum take place? Will we have a kind of civil war in Europe? This might be even more bad news for Barcelona and Real Madrid of course. As violence is never an attractive destination when you want to play football.

I think the referendum is more than just a political game. It might have a big affect on how the cards in European football might be placed in the table. Will the PL be able to profit from the possible power vacuum that might happen?

We might know a bit more next month.

Todayโ€™s anniversaries

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15 comments to Will the power in European football shift soon as a result of Catalan independence?

  • Welcome back from you holidays Walter.

    The situation in Spain is the lead news on the more serious news channels in the UK, along with the recent developments, although they are not including any thought on the implications for football. Typical Untold to link football and politics!

    I had an uncle who worked as an ambulance volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, for the republicans, so my feeling has of course always been on their side, but I must admit that since the British referendum resulted in a minority of the electorate voting to leave the EU,with only a tiddly Liberal Party fighting for a second referendum, my liking for democracy is diminishing.

    And that is before I contemplate that a minority of the people who voted in the US presidential election voted for the manifestation of stupidity – and then he became president.

    Trouble is, if democracy goes I don’t know what to put in its place.

    On the other hand kicking Barcelona out of the Champs League would be rather droll.

  • Chris


    before everyone gets bored with the Catalan classico Barcelona -Barcelona (cause there are 2 clubs in the city), the financial situation would have probably changed all that. The Catalans leaving Spain (the spanish Constitution by the way does not allow for that…so the question at hand there is : is a Constitution worth anything ?) would mean the catalans leaving the EU…and just looking at what is starting to unravel in London/England on the business side, I doubt the catalans would be in for a better and richer way of life. Thus I believe Barcelona would just see its revenue dip, fall, break apart and this would be the end of the story.

    Add to that the fact that young players from all over the world would be outside EU territory – so outside EU employment, this would make it harder for them to recruit.

    Now outside of all other angles – and I can appreciate the emotional part of it -, the fact that this club which treated kids like meat would see it’s future in jeopardy, well, what did the guy say at the end of the movie ? Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn…..

    Now if you can pass me another sip of that good wine and a few pieces of that jamon….I’m hungry !!!

  • Chris


    well, I think that NOT voting IS giving a vote. It’s just oursourcing your future life, it’s just throwing away your right to a free decision.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Why do the Catalans want to break away from the rest of Spain to become a single entity nation outside of Spain and be on their own as a Catalonian independence country different from the rest of Spain? Whereas, they are already a State within Spain with their own government functioning as a State is what is asking my understanding to comprehend. Okay, the Catalans are said to have their own indigenous Catalan language different from the main stream Spanish speaking language spoken all over Spain as the Spain national language. But is this the main reason as ego behind the Catalans agitating to become an independent country from the country Spain bounded together with the Catalan State by a single Constitution as one indivisible country?

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    If I may add, if the Indigenous Catalan language spoken by the Catalans is the drive behind the Catalans seeking for their own independent Catalonian country from Spain, then, base on indigenous languages spoken by various ethnic people around the world, we might one day see the whole world fragmented into small small countries along this line. Because if the Catalans succeed in getting their own independent nation on indigenous language spoken ground, why shouldn’t others too follow suit by trying to get their own country based on this indigenous language spoken format?

  • Menace

    21/09/2017 at 7:32 pm
    You’re probably right. My take on NOT voting is ‘abduction of intelligence’. ‘Taking away intelligence from a decision that is possible’. It is effectively an abuse of education & information that is sufficient to make a decision.

    It happens regularly (involuntarily) on a football field when a player has to pass under stress.

  • Gord

    OT: Corruption News

    The Economist published 2 articles on match fixing today.

    The above article references the other in the 2nd paragraph. Other articles are probably also referenced.

  • Dom

    Currently in the French Catalonian area,and having been to Barca in the last couple of days I really don’t think Catalonian independance is just a simple exercise in democracy. It is purely sedition, unlawful and extremely dangerous. It is not in the least similar to Scotland. The Spanish Constitution makes Spain indivisible. A few mayors were visited by the Spanish authorities yesterday, just to remind them of their responsibilities. It could turn nasty very quickly and I very much doubt the ordinary Catalonian is particularly looking forward to serious complications.
    As usual it’s all about money and power; Catalonia represents at least 20% of Spain’s wealth…what an opportunity for some.
    I trust to God this doesn’t get out of hand…I’ve got to go back and forth to Barca over the next month and a half ๐Ÿ™

  • WalterBroeckx

    Are or have there been any states formed in order with the laws at (any particular moment in) that time? I think most states are formed as results of wars, occupations, arranged marriages. But almost never a state has been formed because people wanted it to be? Take Belgium. If you want to follow the same reasoning Belgium had no right to separate itself from The Netherlands. Yet we did start a war and formed our own country. Much against the laws of constitution of The Netherlands in fact.

  • Josif


    But if you hadn’t left The Netherlands, you would have had to settle for Cruyff as your greatest player ever. Now you are safe knowing the greatest player ever from Belgium is Marouane Fellaini. ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜›

  • gouresh

    What is more important, freedom or football.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Josif, I know who I would pick from those two…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ :-p

  • Flares


    Total UK votes to Leave the European Union – 17,410,742

    total UK votes to Remain in the European Union – 16,141,241

    The minority voted to Remain, not Leave as you stated. Not by much I’ll grant you (a 4% differential), but the Remainers are not and were not the dominant opinion, except in London. Unsurprisingly, if you look at the data of those boroughs with a big swing to the Remain camp (up to 60%) the population is comprised of 40-50% persons born abroad. As a white Londoner married to a Jamaican woman and living in a borough with a 64% ethnic mix, I know a little bit about diversity, but bearing in mind that by 2031 it’s estimated immigrants will outnumber British-born people, I look at those Referendum stats and the words ‘vested interest’ spring to mind.

    (The only oddity within the London statistics was Newham, which was split almost 50/50. If you’ve ever been around there, you’ll know why that result seems strange)

  • para

    “I think that NOT voting IS giving a vote.”
    Think carefully about what you just said.

    This is one of the silly mantras that are forced on people and they accept without any thought.

    If someone does not vote, it just means they find the “issues” or “parties” that are presented for voting not acceptable, and would not like to use their vote on something they really do not support.

    Or, they find the whole process of voting a farce and want no part of it, because it only appears that one gets any influence in the outcome.

  • omgarsenal

    Tony….i don’t see Barcelona dropping out of LaLiga, even IF Cataluna leaves Spain. I also don’t forsee any war over independence, as they already fought one and it cost spain over a million dead… hopefully they will have learnt their lesson.