Peace breaks out in Spain's regional feuds
16 December 2004, BARCELONA- In what appears to be a cooling of Spain's regional tensions, a nationalist leader in Catalonia in north-east Spain has apologised for calling for a boycott of Madrid's bid to stage the 2012 Olympics bid.
16 December 2004
BARCELONA- In what appears to be a cooling of Spain's regional tensions, a nationalist leader in Catalonia in north-east Spain has apologised for calling for a boycott of Madrid's bid to stage the 2012 Olympics bid.
Josep Lluis Carod Rovira, of the ERC party, called on Catalans to boycott Madrid's campaign last month after a row over the unlikely subject of roller hockey.
Roller hockey has come to symbolise the hopes of Catalan nationalists for greater international recognition for their part of Spain to become an independent 'state'.
The sport achieved centre stage in the on-going conflict between Madrid and Barcelona after the International Roller Skating Federation decided to allow a Catalan national team in the qualifying rounds of the sport's world B championships and introduced a new national anthem and a new flag to international sport.
Catalonia went on to win the competition.
Leaders of Catalonia's semi-autonomous government said that roller skating had opened the door to world recognition that their country, like Scotland or Wales, could be treated, on the sports field at least, as a nation in its own right.
The roller skating federation of the Basque country, another region demanding more autonomy from Madrid, has also requested that it be allowed to compete separately from Spain.
But the International Roller Skating Federation reversed the decision, reawakening tensions between Madrid and Catalonian nationalists.
The row has posed a dilemma for the future of the government of the Socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
Ever since the 15th century Catalonia has resisted incorporation into the Spanish state and its language and culture.
Under Franco, use of the Catalan language was banned in public. The rise of ETA, using terrorism to promote Basque separatism, has made the question of autonomy extremely fraught.
Catalonian nationalists have long campaigned for teams from this north-east region of Spain to be able to compete as national teams in international competitions.
Sporting pride represents a symbol of the Catalan sense of being apart from the Spanish state.
Catalan nationalists blamed Madrid for the reverse of their roller hockey team's fortunes.
Carod Rovira promptly called on Catalans to boycott Madrid's campaign to stage the 2012 Olympics.
But now he has insisted his words were misconstrued but it would be an error to boycott the bid.
Carod Rovira was forced to resign from the Catalan regional government earlier this year after holding secret talks with the Basque separatist organisation ETA over a truce.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news