France Prime Minister Manuel Vallas has told the French publication Journal du Dimanche that he would consider allowing Barcelona into Ligue 1 should Catalonia gain independence from Spain.
There has been a movement afoot for Catalan independence which has caused a serious division among those living within the country’s boundaries. The heated debate reached its boiling point during September’s regional elections, which saw pro-separatist parties win an absolute majority in Spain.
Support of the independence movement has been strong inside the Camp Nou, with pro-Catalan chants being heard in the 17th minute of every home match, commemorating the 1714, the last time Catalonia had complete autonomy. The region is currently an autonomous community of Spain and designated a “historical nationality” by its Statue of Autonomy.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has previously stated that Barcelona, as well as fellow Catalan La Liga club Espanyol, would not be able to continue playing in Spain because Spanish law will not allow it.
“Spanish sport law firmly establishes that the only state from which clubs can take part in domestic competitions is Andorra,” Tebas said.
While the league official went on to express his belief that Catalonia would “never separate from Spain,” there remains a possibility Barcelona could be kicked out of La Liga should Catalonia gain independence from Spain.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has offered Barcelona an outlet by expressing his desire to allow the Catalan club to join Ligue 1. Valls pointed out that the French league has already permitted AS Monaco — which is a sovereign European state — to play in its first division.
Monaco has competed in the French professional league system since 1933, even though its inclusion has caused controversy since it is based in a tax haven and was purchased by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev in Dec. 2011.
In Jan. 2014, AS Monaco paid a sum of €50 million for the right to remain in Ligue 1 while remaining exempt from France’s tax laws.
“Monaco play in Ligue 1, so why not Barcelona?” asked Valls. “I’m a huge football fan, a Barca fan. They’re in my blood. France knows it and they ask me about it on the streets.”