Roller hockey re-ignites Spain's regional conflicts

26th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

26 November 2004, BARCELONA- The unlikely subject of roller hockey was again at the centre of a fresh row between Madrid and its regions.

26 November 2004

BARCELONA- The unlikely subject of roller hockey was again at the centre of a fresh row between Madrid and its regions.

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 now the International Roller Skating Federation has refused to recognise the right of the Catalonian team to compete in international competitions, reawakening tensions between Madrid and Catalonian nationalists.

The row poses a dilemma for the future Spanish 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.

Now left-wing Catalan nationalists have blamed Madrid for the reverse of their roller hockey team's fortunes.

Josep Lluis Carod Rovira, of the ERC party, called on Catalans to boycott Madrid's campaign to stage the 2012 Olympics.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news



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