There is an old saying that sport and politics do not mix, and should not clash with each other, but they clearly have not delved into Spanish football, especially in Catalonia and Barcelona.
Following last year’s nationalism poll, Sunday’s Catalan elections have once again sprung up debates over whether the region would remain a part of Spain, with concerns over if their biggest club, Barca, would be allowed to stay in La Liga.
However, the current champions are likely to leave, should Catalonia gain independence, with the Spanish top flight’s president, Javier Tebas, warning them that they wouldn’t play in the competition.
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Regional fight for independence
The Iberian country has long been ridden with troubles of unrest between regions, particularly in the fight for independence against the central state.
Catalonia is one of the most ardent supporters of separatism from Madrid, with the majority in the region using its most popular club, Barcelona, to show their feelings and ambitions for the cause.
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Although they cannot make a bid for independence without approval from the central state, Spain, a poll last November showed that 80% of the Catalan population wanted to become their own nation.
No La Liga place for Barca
While its people want to break away, the effect it would have on the reigning Champions League and La Liga champions could be near catastrophic to their superiority status.
“They would not be allowed to play in La Liga because the law would not allow it” warns league president Tebas, cited in the Mirror.
“Spanish sports law firmly establishes that the only other state from which clubs can take part in domestic competitions is Andorra.”
Threat to La Liga’s popularity
Although Tebas does not feel the region will become independent, the ramifications of Barcelona leaving La Liga could hinder the long-term future of Barcelona and Spanish football alike.
You only have to look at the situation in Scotland, where the popularity of football in the country has been largely damaged due to the bankruptcy of Rangers, and their subsequent relegation to the Scottish third tier.
The loss of the annual battles at the top of the Scottish Premier League (SPL) between arch-enemies Rangers and Celtic saw the importance of winning the division title decrease drastically, and this will be the same in Spain.
While Atletico Madrid have made moves towards the summit of La Liga in recent years, winning the competition in 2014, there is a sense that the division continues to be based on the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
No Europe for champions
Should Catalonia gain independence, Barca would be resigned to play in a league along with local rivals Espanyol and other smaller teams in the region including current Segunda division clubs Gimnàstic de Tarragona and FC Girona.
Not only would the financial rewards be lowered for winning a Catalan league, but their main source of income, television revenue, would also take a major hit, as lower profile matches will not likely draw the same crowds as an El Clasico fixture against Real Madrid.
As a new country, Catalonia would also not have the history and pedigree as a nation in European competitions, leaving Barcelona on the verge of not being able to compete in the Champions League, of which they are current holders, or the continent’s secondary club tournament, Europa League.
Would you still watch La Liga if Barcelona were removed from the competition? Have your say in the comments section below!
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