About three weeks have passed since the last El Clásico derby, in which the Catalonian FC Barcelona dominated the Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium with an easy 3:0 win. A well-known and prestigious derby between the two potentially strongest teams in the world, this might have been one of the last games in the Spanish Primera División due to the Catalonian independence movement, which could have a major impact on soccer.
The Catalonians bid for independence dates back to the Spanish civil war in the 1930s, in which Francisco Franco led the fight against the revolutionists. After a three-year battle, Franco won the war against the socialistic revolutionists, including Catalonia, and reunited Spain. Since then, however, Catalonia has started gradually seeking its independence from Spain, leading to its current state.
How the league might be influenced
For now, the future of Spanish soccer is unclear, due to the Catalonian independence movement. As a result, teams like Español Barcelona, Girona and even the great FC Barcelona could face isolation from the Primera División. A long and vital part of soccer, the Spanish El Clásico might become history if Catalonia becomes independent.
However, even long before the Catalonian independence movement reached its height in 2017, -and now continues in 2018,- this game has been the centre of two political ideologies clashing against each other. As the rather right-winged Real Madrid plays against the socialistic-orientated FC Barcelona, two opposite poles of the political spectrum collide against each other at least twice a year. For the moment, the collision continues, but Spanish news issues updates daily on the Catalonian bid for independence.
A soccer league for only Spain, without Catalonian teams and without one of the most prestigious derbies in the world, certainly could turn out to become a nightmare for any soccer enthusiast.
The impact on the teams
Another nightmare might come upon the FC Barcelona and its fans themselves. Lionel Messi, the club’s historically and statistically most important soccer player, might leave the club for free, thanks to a special clause in his new contract, signed signed in November 2017 and active until summer 2021.
The Spanish sports newspaper El Mundo Deportivo recently leaked the information that in the case of Barcelona losing its right to play in the Liga BBVA, Messi´s 700 million Euro buyout clause would be extinguished.
This could open the door wide open for clubs like Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) or the two Manchester clubs, United and City, to sign Messi – he has, after all, already been linked to other clubs like PSG, Man U and Man City. A FC Barcelona without Lionel Messi would be another dramatic loss for the Catalonian team and their fans, after losing the Brazilian superstar Neymar to PSG last summer for over 200 million Euro, partially tearing up Barcelona’s offense.
Implications for the Spanish national team
Not only the Spanish soccer leagues could be influenced by such a decision. Even the Spanish national soccer team could be affected by the Catalonian independence, as important players like Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Piqué would potentially play for the Catalonian national team instead of playing for Spain. All three were born in Catalonia giving them the possible option to play for Catalonia instead. After winning the World and Euro Cup with Spain, Piqué even offered to end his career if he is seen to be a problem because of his political views. Outside of the autonomous community Catalonia, Piqué’s political views in favor of the Catalonian bid for independence are seen as highly critical.
Nonetheless, the chance of him stepping down from the duty of the national team seems more likely than playing for a potential Catalonian national team.
Due to the regulations set by the FIFA, soccer player are forced to play for only one national team throughout their career. The player is obligated to play for only that team, for whom he has played his first match for. This could deny players like Piqué any chance of playing for any other national team than Spain.
Whether or not the Catalonian independence will happen is still unsure and has to be decided on another day. Meanwhile, it is for sure that this decision will have a severe impact on soccer inside and outside of Spain. As soccer teams are leaving the various divisions, derbies are taken apart and with football players potentially leaving the national team, the Spanish soccer federation could face strong financial implications, losing TV viewers and moreover, its standing in the world of soccer when loosing important derbies such as El Clásico.