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.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Sunday evening, thousands of Catalan independence flags were shown in Barça’s stadium during the FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid football game, known as “the Clásico”. 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 “without any doubt […] damages Spain’s brand”. “It seemed a bad image to me” as it showed “internal division in the convulsive moment we are going through”, said the Minister, from the Spanish nationalist and conservative People’s Party (PP). The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas – who is the leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) – replied to García-Margallo by praising Camp Nou’s demonstration for showing a “great civility level and good manners”, especially considering the “tense” 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 “to project our [Catalonia’s] identity to the world”. Furthermore, the Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, had earlier criticised García-Margallo for his “undemocratic” statements. “What he is saying is that he does not accept the free and democratic expression of the people at the Camp Nou”, stated Homs. “One can sympathise with it or be against it, but by saying it damages [Spain’s brand] Margallo projects to the world an undemocratic attitude”, added Homs. During Franco’s dictatorship, when the Catalan language was forbidden in public places, Barça’s 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 “the freedom of expression has to prevail”. “Everybody has the right to express themselves in a civic-minded way”, he stated. The leader of the PP’s Catalan branch, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, considered the people showing pro-independence flags and chanting to be “a manipulation that perverts sport’s soul”. In addition, the President of the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), Oriol Junqueras, stated that what damages Spain's image is “the significant incompetence of its politicians” and “holding the world record of public sector bailouts”. 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.
“It damages Spain’s brand”, stated García-Margallo
The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister lamented the fact that many people at Camp Nou expressed their support of Catalonia’s independence from Spain. “The great success of Spain during the Transition time [from Franco’s dictatorship to democracy] was offering an image of a united country, of a shared effort, of a shared future”, said García-Margallo. For him, what could be seen last Sunday “was just the opposite”. According to the Spanish Minister it projected an image of “internal division in the convulsive moment we are going through, in a moment when all the world’s countries are competing for scarce capital”. “Without any doubt […] it damages Spain’s brand”, said García-Margallo.
For the Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, García-Margallo’s words show he has “not understood a single thing” about what is going on in Catalonia. For Homs, the Spanish Minister’s words are “especially serious”, as the Camp Nou event was “respectful and without insulting anyone”. Furthermore, “the fact that the head of Spain’s diplomacy expresses himself in such way shows the democratic quality of the Spanish Government”, 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’s FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid Clásico game, thousands of Catalan independence flags were shown in Barça’s 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’s 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’s 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 “In – Inde –Independència”. 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’s National Day honours Barcelona’s 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 “Barça!” 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.