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The massive presence of Catalan independence flags at FC Barcelona’s stadium annoys Spanish nationalists

The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, states that the claim for Catalonia’s independence during the last FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid Clásico football game “damages Spain’s brand”. On the contrary, the Catalan President, Artur Mas, praised the demonstration for its peaceful and democratic nature, and for “projecting our identity to the world”. Furthermore, the Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, considered García-Margallo’s statements to be “undemocratic” for not accepting “the free and democratic expression of the people at Camp Nou”. Thousands of Catalan independence flags were shown at the match – many more than in any other game ever. Furthermore, on several occasions, a large part of the stadium shouted pro-independence chants.

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09 October 2012 12:54 AM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- On Sunday evening, thousands of Catalan independence flags were shown in Barça\u2019s stadium during the FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid football game, known as \u201Cthe Clásico\u201D. Camp Nou became a loud speaker for Catalan independence to a potential TV audience of 400 million people, with most of the crowd chanting pro-independence claims before and during the game. On Monday, the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, though that the event \u201Cwithout any doubt [\u2026] damages Spain\u2019s brand\u201D. \u201CIt seemed a bad image to me\u201D as it showed \u201Cinternal division in the convulsive moment we are going through\u201D, said the Minister, from the Spanish nationalist and conservative People\u2019s Party (PP). The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas \u2013 who is the leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) \u2013 replied to García-Margallo by praising Camp Nou\u2019s demonstration for showing a \u201Cgreat civility level and good manners\u201D, especially considering the \u201Ctense\u201D moment Spain is experiencing. Mas praised the fact that any project should be able to be expressed in a peaceful and democratic way, as the Catalan independence movement is doing. According to Mas, the behaviour of the people at Camp Nou was a good way \u201Cto project our [Catalonia\u2019s] identity to the world\u201D. Furthermore, the Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, had earlier criticised García-Margallo for his \u201Cundemocratic\u201D statements. \u201CWhat he is saying is that he does not accept the free and democratic expression of the people at the Camp Nou\u201D, stated Homs. \u201COne can sympathise with it or be against it, but by saying it damages [Spain\u2019s brand] Margallo projects to the world an undemocratic attitude\u201D, added Homs. During Franco\u2019s dictatorship, when the Catalan language was forbidden in public places, Barça\u2019s stadium was one of the few places were people could talk in Catalan in public.


Both Spanish and Catalan would be the official languages of an independent Catalonia

In addition, Pere Navarro, the leader of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the main opposition party in Catalonia, stated that \u201Cthe freedom of expression has to prevail\u201D. \u201CEverybody has the right to express themselves in a civic-minded way\u201D, he stated. The leader of the PP\u2019s Catalan branch, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, considered the people showing pro-independence flags and chanting to be \u201Ca manipulation that perverts sport\u2019s soul\u201D. In addition, the President of the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), Oriol Junqueras, stated that what damages Spain's image is \u201Cthe significant incompetence of its politicians\u201D and \u201Cholding the world record of public sector bailouts\u201D. Besides, Junqueras praised the peaceful and inclusive nature of Catalan nationalism. In a press article published on Monday, he emphasised that both Spanish and Catalan would be the official languages of an independent Catalonia.

\u201CIt damages Spain\u2019s brand\u201D, stated García-Margallo

The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister lamented the fact that many people at Camp Nou expressed their support of Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain. \u201CThe great success of Spain during the Transition time [from Franco\u2019s dictatorship to democracy] was offering an image of a united country, of a shared effort, of a shared future\u201D, said García-Margallo. For him, what could be seen last Sunday \u201Cwas just the opposite\u201D. According to the Spanish Minister it projected an image of \u201Cinternal division in the convulsive moment we are going through, in a moment when all the world\u2019s countries are competing for scarce capital\u201D. \u201CWithout any doubt [\u2026] it damages Spain\u2019s brand\u201D, said García-Margallo.

For the Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, García-Margallo\u2019s words show he has \u201Cnot understood a single thing\u201D about what is going on in Catalonia. For Homs, the Spanish Minister\u2019s words are \u201Cespecially serious\u201D, as the Camp Nou event was \u201Crespectful and without insulting anyone\u201D. Furthermore, \u201Cthe fact that the head of Spain\u2019s diplomacy expresses himself in such way shows the democratic quality of the Spanish Government\u201D, he added.

Thousands of Catalan independence flags were shown at the last Clásico

Camp Nou became a loud speaker for Catalan independence to a potential TV audience of 400 million people. During last Sunday\u2019s FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid Clásico game, thousands of Catalan independence flags were shown in Barça\u2019s stadium. It was something never seen before. There have always been Catalan independence flags shown at Camp Nou by some attendees, but their presence was almost testimonial. However, since the 1.5 million strong demonstration for Catalonia\u2019s independence that took place in Barcelona less than four weeks ago, this has changed. In the last four weeks, many Barça fans have been increasingly vocal in supporting Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain at the stadium. In fact, in the first game at Camp Nou after the massive independence demonstration, it was the first time ever that a large part of the stadium crowd chanted a pro-independence claim. On Sunday, against Real Madrid, it seemed it was almost the entire stadium chanting the claim, on some occasions before and during the match.

The chanting was particularly noisy in the 17th minute of the game. 17 minutes and 14 seconds into the game, the entire Camp Nou started to shout the popular pro-independence claim \u201CIn \u2013 Inde \u2013Independència\u201D. The moment was quite symbolic, referring to the year 1714, when Catalonia lost its self-government institutions and Spain was created as a Unitarian state. In fact, Catalonia\u2019s National Day honours Barcelona\u2019s military defeat by the Bourbon army after more than a year of being besieged; it was on 11th September 1714.

A Catalan flag made from 98,000 cardboard posters

At the Clásico, FC Barcelona had organised a huge cardboard mosaic covering the entire stadium seat stands, as it has done for the last two decades for the most important games. The Catalan club distributes cardboard monochrome posters on the stadium seats for attendees to lift up and form a pattern, which changes at each game. Normally, the Catalan and Barça flags are present in the mosaic. This time, the mosaic was only made of a gigantic Catalan flag and the word \u201CBarça!\u201D that literally covered the entire stadium stands. It was formed by 98,000 cardboard posters. It was shown at the start of the game, when the players went on the pitch. They had already been welcomed by a loud pro-independence chant, although that of the 17th minute was even noisier. The mosaic was also shown at each Barça goal.

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  • Catalan independence flags at the Camp Nou (by Albert Gea / Reuters)

  • The mosaic covering the entire Barça's stadium (by Reuters)

  • Catalan independence flags at the Camp Nou (by Albert Gea / Reuters)
  • The mosaic covering the entire Barça's stadium (by Reuters)