The president of Catalonia, Artur Mas continues to fight for the region’s independence from Spain. Despite the Madrid based court voting against the independence movement, Catalonia has proceeded in its plans of break away. The regional parliament of Catalonia has already voted to begin the process of achieving independence from Spain. In a vote in the regional parliament, Catalan lawmakers voted 72 to 63 to a plan for independence from Spain by 2017. The Spanish Prime Minster, Mariano Rajoy, promised to halt the move for independence by appealing the decision in Spain’s Constitutional Court. “Catalonia is not going anywhere, nothing is going to break,” Rajoy said in a nationally televised address.
Inspite of opposition, the Catalonian region continues to proceed with its plans. This could spell trouble for both the parties, with Spain coming worse off. The Catalan region has long been the industrial heartland of Spain – first for its maritime power and trade in goods such as textiles, but recently for finance, services and hi-tech companies. It is one of the wealthiest regions of Spain – it accounts for 18.8% of Spanish GDP, compared to 17.6% contributed by Madrid. Secession would therefore cost Spain almost 20 per cent of its economic output, and trigger a row about how to carve up the sovereign’s 836 billion euros of debt. On the other hand, Catalonia would immediately become a prominent nation. It would have a gross domestic product of $314 billion (£195bn), according to calculations by the OECD, which would make it the 34th largest economy in the world. That would make it bigger than Portugal or Hong Kong.
Amidst all this, one of the big losses will come to the sporting world. Currently, football’s greatest and popular team Barcelona belongs to the Catalonia region. It competes in the Spanish Premier Division, with teams representing other cities from Spain. Barcelona won the division title last year. The partition of Spain, which will spell the end of this teams participation in the league will bring dissapointment to both factions, economically and socially. Barcelona generates $680 million from just the sale of tickets for the division’s games. Furthermore, the team would loose out on television streaming of the division games. Although Catalonia would have its own league, Barcelona and other teams present in the division would no longer be in the elite league. It would end up competing with weaker teams that would be added to the league, making the league less challenging. This would lead to great dissapointment amongst the fanatic supporters who are certainly less likely to be interested in the new division. This could spell further trouble for the Catalonia party. Towards the west, a new Spain would mourn the loss of one the prestigious football teams from its competition. It is less likely to be viewed as an elite competition itself. The exit of Barcelona leaves only two good teams, both from Madrid, making the competition predictable. Certainly viewership will decline in this region.
Lastly from global point of view, the departure of Barcelona will bring an end to the century old rivalry between two of the greatest ever teams: Barcelona and Real Madrid. Also called the El Classico, the game goes beyond football. It stretches back to cultural differences that orginated a century ago. The heat in this match is the reason why it has accumulated the most viewership for any game. With an audience of about 1 billion people, the absence of this game is what will hurt people and profits. Loss of intensity and passion will meet declining viewership and merchandise sale.
An avid follower of the sport, I understand the split of Catalonia only from a footballing point of view. The rivarly between these two teams is what defines football, and obviously brings the money. They play each other this weekend, so I will be enjoying the las few between them.