Catalans | ‘National’ pride at stake against Gunners

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The Catalan flag. Link to post.Saint-Denis, France | On 18 June, Catalonia will decide through a referendum whether to enhance its autonomy from Spain by granting greater authority to the Generalitat, the regional government. Yet among the most significant elements in the Catalan identity, FC Barcelona, on Wednesday has the opportunity to make an early declaration of pride in the Champions League final with Arsenal (1945 GMT). The Christian Science Monitor reports that Catalan language classes feature as one of the obligations of Barça players. “Catalan identity is not like other national identities,” says Matthew Tree, who writes about the region. “It’s not based on ethnicity, but rather is based on language.” The language survived a 40-year ban under the Franco dictatorship, but Barça perpetuated the regional feeling. “Under Franco, you couldn’t say anything in Catalan,” says senior citizen Rosa Murell. “But you could go to a soccer game and yell ‘Visca el Barça!’ and everyone knew that you were really saying ‘Visca Cataluí±a!’ ” The article does perpetuate the misnomer that the team prohibits corporate logos on its uniform in order to emphasize the “more than a club” idea. Unless the Nike swoosh will be stitched on a new Catalan flag, Barcelona clearly has corporate allies.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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