Expatica news

Spain vs Catalonia?

4 November 2004

BARCELONA-The ongoing row over Catalonian sports teams competing against Spain in international competitions took a new turn on Thursday.

Miguel Iceta, of Socialist party of Catalonia (PSC), which is part of the region’s ruling coalition, suggested if both Spanish and Catalan sports teams were in the same competition, the worst team should retire.

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.

Campaigners hopes were boosted after the Catalan roller hockey team won the World B championship last month in Macao. 

It followed a decision by the International Roller Skating Federation to allow a Catalan national team into the qualifying rounds and introduced a new national anthem and a new flag to international sport.

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.

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.

Zapatero told the Spanish parliament on Wednesday there would not be a hockey match between Spain and Catalonia.

He said it would create a confrontation between the Spanish state and the regions which could only be resolved through “dialogue”.

The Catalonia regional government, headed by a Socialist, Pasqual Maragall, considers the roller-skating recognition “a valuable precedent”. 

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news