According to the president of the Liga de Futbol Profesional, Javier Tebas, Barcelona and Espanyol will not be allowed to play in La Liga if Catalonia breaks from Spain.
Leaders in Catalonia have agreed to push ahead with a referendum on independence on November 9th, defying legal blocks by the Spanish government.
“If Catalonia became independent, taking into consideration the Sports Law that would be enforced by the rest of Spain, Barcelona wouldn’t be allowed to play [in La Liga],” Tebas told a sports conference in Barcelona.
“There would have to be a change in the law made in the Spanish parliament. Clearly, if it happened, then it would be detrimental for Spanish football to lose Barca who are an historic club.”
“I can’t imagine the LFP without Barca. In the same way as I can’t imagine Catalonia without Spain, I can’t see La Liga without Barca. Also if it did happen what would you call the league: the Spanish League or the Iberian League?”
The present Barcelona board have taken a back-seat role in the heated debate taking place in the region about whether to hold an independence referendum. They remain non-committal.
Barcelona supporters aligned with the former president Joan Laporta are calling on the club to be more vocal in support of the referendum.
The club features away kits with vertical stripes in yellow and red, as in the Catalonia flag, the Senyera.
On September 13th, two days after the National day of Catalonia, Barcelona dropped their normal home kit in favor of the yellow and red version for a match against Athletic Bilbao; which was the first time the team wore the flag’s colors at home since the club was founded in 1899 – a move which delighted followers of the Catalonia independence movement.
Xavi and Gerard Pique are among the Barcelona players who have come out in support of a referendum.
“We have all the right in the world to vote,” Xavi said. “We need to vote, we need the people to show their opinions and I am in favor of the referendum obviously.”
Both players have spent time with the Spanish national team. Pique states that he has never considered giving anything less than 100% while suiting up for La Roja.
“I am Catalan and I wanted to take part in the rally [held in September in support of the referendum],” Pique said. “I went with friends to have a good time with the other 1.8 million that went there.”
“There is no need to doubt me. I have played for the national team for 11 years and it is something different to be in favor of a referendum which is democratic. People should have the right to vote and this has nothing to do with the other.”
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has stated that Barcelona must be allowed to compete in Spain, no matter what happens in politics.
“We need Barcelona to stay in the league. That’s what football is all about – two great teams like Madrid and Barca playing against each other,” Benzema told a press conference in France today ahead of his country’s friendlies with Portugal and Armenia.
“If they need to leave La Liga then that would be a problem so I hope things stay as they are.
The Catalan capital is Barcelona, which is home to some of Spain’s biggest companies. Catalonia is one of Spain’s richest and most highly industrialized regions, as well as one of its most independent.
Its 7.5 million inhabitants make up approximately 16% of the Spanish population.
Catalonian independence has been a flashpoint topic for many years in Spain. News of the referendum has ignited strong feelings in every corner of the country.
Catalonians are unhappy at Spain’s refusal to give them more powers and were energized by Scotland’s recent independence referendum. Spain’s deepening economic crisis has also seen a surge in support for separation.
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