In the week of October 2nd after my teaching experience, T.Dan and I could not ignore the events in Catalonia surrounding the referendum for independence. I did my own research on the subject, bringing articles to Dan for discussion. There were a plethora of things to talk about, including the Spanish police’s acts of violence in attempts to stop people from voting, as well as how likely is it that Catalonia will ultimately declare independence. If you are unaware of the situation currently in Catalonia, I will give a brief synopsis before diving into the significance of it as well as my conclusions on how it relates to soccer.
On October 1st polls were opened in the region of Catalonia for its citizens to vote on whether they were for or against declaring independence from Spain. The Spanish government and its officials have rules this referendum illegal and against the Spanish constitution. On the day of the referendum many Catalan citizens were violently prevented from voting by the Spanish police force. Many leaders in the Catalan government were also arrested by the Spanish police.
In the following days many different officials on both sides have reported on the referendum, Spain maintaining their stance that it is illegal and will not be acknowledged. Catalan people and government officials have pleaded with other European countries as well as the EU for support in their fight for independence. The reported statistic on the vote count was 90% of people able to vote, voting for independence, and 10% against.
It is clear that the Catalan identity is strong throughout the whole region and now more than ever, the Catalan people are proudly fighting for their cultural, economic, and regional independence. The aftermath of the October 1st vote date has been sticky, and yet to be resolved. So it is hard to say how significant the referendum is yet, but regardless of the outcome, it is clear that Catalonia is its own country, recognized or not.
The police violence against voters was horrific, rubber bullets and excessive force were used during large pro independence rallies. 822 Catalonians were placed in the hospital from the violence. Using both Spanish sources and sources around the world to understand the reaction of this violence was fascinating. A CNBC article quoted Jordi Turull, a Catalan official as saying, “what the police are doing is simply savage, it’s an international scandal.” While Spanish sources based in Madrid have shown a different light, ignoring the police violence and focusing on the breach of the Spanish constitution.
While this was big international news and unignorable, it was less significant to our study of soccer and more to the world that soccer lives in. As a result of this referendum and violence FC Barcelona played their La Ligament match against Las Palmas in front of an empty stadium.
In the interest of getting back on track with our study of soccer, Dan and I planned readings for the following week in a book from the library about identities of both FC Barcelona and Atheltic Club Bilbao. Barcelona’s identity is strong and only getting stronger, and the historical context of the biggest representation of the region in the world, FC Barcelona, is one Dan and I were excited to explore.