Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Fallacy No 1: Leave politics out of sport

The latest fallacy that has been exposed has been the explosion of Spanish nationalism following Spain’s victory in the Euro Championships. We have witnessed an orgy of flag-waving, appeals to national unity and demonstrations of emotional attachment to the (Spanish) homeland.

But, er wait a minute. I thought that politics should be left out of sport, as the Spanish media always reminds us whenever Catalan people demand their national teams be allowed to play in international competitions.

Alas, not so when the Spanish team wins a tournament. Then, mixing politics and sport, for the greater cause of Spanish unity and to undermine the movement for Catalan independence is encouraged. This latest show of Spanish nationalism has been driven and executed by the same Spanish media that ticks off Catalan people for allegedly mixing politics and sport.

What we have witnessed these days is the comeback of a more confident display of Spanish nationalism. Under perceived threat by the “peripheral” nationalisms of Catalonia and the Basque Country, Spanish people have come out and showed their national allegiance in a show of patriotic fervour not since the Franco days.

And the usual suspects, the apologetics for Spanish Nationalism, the neo-Francoist converted to “democracy” (democracy in their own terms only) have come out praising this show of Spanish fervour. One of them even managed to get an opinion article published in The Guardian.

Victor de la Serna, editor of the paper that has done the most to attach social cohesion in Catalonia, the paper that spearheaded a lunatic and poisonous conspiracy theory about the train bombs in Madrid, in an article riddled with outright lies and blatant manipulation, manages to get his hate-message to an international audience. Fortunately, Guardian readers know better and the comments left in the page show that an educated international audience does not swallow the lies of the Spanish media.


neil said...

Welcome back Rab. Just thought I'd help you out in your confusion: Waving the national flag which represents your own national team after they have won a tournament is not political. Demonstrations of emotional attachment to the national team and its country after a winning a major tournament is not political. It's pretty much normal the world over. Does your problem lie in the fact that it is the Spanish waving their flags?

What I am getting from your post here Rab is that you believe that It is OK for sports in Catalonia (e.g. FCB with Catalonia is Not Spain, More than a Club etc.) to make political statements, but if the media in Spain dare do anything slightly political with regards to sport, you can make them out to be evil. What is your reasoning for this Rab? Or do I misunderstand you?

In Catalonia I know people who are pleased that Spain won, people who don't care and those who wanted Spain to bomb out as early as possible. Pretending or claiming that Spain has united because of it is scarily delusional. Calling for unity is naive and ultimately pointless. Nothing political will change due to this particular sporting triumph. Only thing that is sure to happen: Lots of sad muppets trying to make a political scene of it. How tragic.

PS: Care to congratulate Spain and their national team on a deserved, stylish and victorious tournament?

Rab said...


I am afraid to say, not for the first time, that you misunderstand me. I will try again.

What I am getting at is the double standards of the Spanish press. I am not saying that it is right or wrong to wave one flag or the other.

What I am describing is the hypocrisy of using sport for political gain when it suits the Spanish nationalist cause, and play along with it, but criticise Catalan people when they do exactly the same: wave their national flag in a sporting event.

What is the difference between having a banner with the “Catalonia is not Spain” and shouting “Arriba España” and making appeals to (Spanish) national unity? Are appeals to Spanish unity different to appeals for Catalan unity? There is absolutely no difference.

What I am getting at is this: for the pro-Spanish media and its apologetics waving a Catalan flag when FC Barcelona or Catalonia plays is political; yet waving a Spanish flag when Real Madrid or Spain plays is not political. Don’t make me laugh please!

And what about the Spanish team’s jersey. It contains el escudo real (royal coat of arms), which it is by no means small. It is the biggest shirt badge of all teams. Same with the flag in their shorts. The biggest national flag of all competing teams who cared to plant their national flag in their shorts. I did not see the Swedish kit to have any royal standard or a flag in their pants. They have the logo of their football association. The Spanish jersey has a political symbol as a shirt badge instead of the RFEF (Spanish FA) badge. That’s a fact. Is that not political?

Other national teams (for example England, another monarchy) do not include such overt political symbols in their kit. They include the logo of their football association.

Next time the Spanish media comes out with the line "Catalans should leave politics out of sport", we shall remember the scenes we have watched recently and their approach to reporting on a football tournament.

As for congratulating Spain? Yes, I have no qualms on congratulating the Spanish team on winning the tournament and playing very attractive football. Even if their victory is being used for political gain by the Spanish media.

However, I wish one day Catalonia were allowed to field its own team in international competitions, as other staless nations are allowed to do, without being subject to the sporting and political boycott of the Spanish FA and Spanish government. Surely you will agree that such boycott, as has happened recently for other disciplines is most unsporting.

Miquel Marzabal Galano said...

Hi Rab, welcome back.
Sometimes one has other priorities than the blog... Life?
I am one of those Catalans who was at the side of ANY country but Spain. Sorry guys: no Stockholm syndrome here.
I cannot be on their side as long they keep impeding Catalan sports associations to join the international arena to compete under Catalan identity.
(Did you know that the Spaniards have withdrawn from the international Bowling competition sub23 because they don't want to compete against Catalonia, who is one of the competitors -against the will of Spain-?).

Sport is an interesting phenomenon that has to do a lot with how our societies interact with each other, therefore sports is full of political liaisons, compromises and choices.

The problem is that the Spaniards want us to feel Spanish and participate to their competitions.
It's strange after treating us the way they treat us. I think if Spain would help us to get into the international competitions under Catalan identity they would win Catalans as friends. In this way they are creating themselves an enemy.
I am a sportive person, and I want to congratulate the Spaniards for their victory. And I say their victory because I do not consider the Spanish nationality as mine.
It is true that there have been many voices trying to suggest a unifying factor in Spain with this victory.
Sorry guys. It doesn't work.
Give us freedom.
Give us our money back,
Give us our airports,
Give us the freedom to decide what we want for Catalonia
Give us the freedom to teach the languages we want to learn
Give us our freedom to fly intercontinental from Barcelona,
Give us proper railroads
Give us proper roads
Give us a proper underground
Give us real democracy and let us organize referendums
Give us the choice to compete internationally for Catalonia or for Spain.

And then we'll talk.

ian llorens said...

I do not like soccer and I did not watch the match (though it was on the ABC channel). Prior to the match, I was hoping that Spain would win. In general I support Andorra and my adopted country USA, otherwise Spain.

However, after seeing the political use of the victory, a complement to the Castilian language supremacy manifest, I really hope that it will take another 444 years for them to win again.

Jack said...

Stop writing rubbish, Robert:

According to a recently published (2008) poll by the Catalan local government, only 17% of the interviewed opted for an independent Catalan state. The vast majority (> 70%) either opted for Catalonia being part of Spain as an autonomous community or part of a federal Spanish state:

I'm sorry for you, Rab, but you need to write a lot more hatred-filled posts against Spain. Just don't loose control, ok? Hope your fiancée hides away from you things like razorblades, knives and scissors before you do somebody any harm...

Jack said...

correct link here:

Rab said...

Ah, Jack is also back.

Jack, again, launches a personal attack below the line.
Jack, again, fails to address the issue of the post and goes off onto a tangent. This seems to be a trait of many visitors to this blog.
Jack, again, lies and manipulates since he has no arguments other than personal insults.

Jack and people like him represent the resentful who hate Catalonia just because it refuses to completely yield to Spain.
They hate our language, and try to keep the status quo or worse, so it dies off.
They hate our culture, and try to talk it down as minor and second class, and subservient to Spanish culture.
They hate our sense of identity and our political will to pursue different policies for Catalonia, and try to attack using spurious arguments and personal insults.
They hate our (still) economical power, and refuse to accept the fiscal deficit that is crippling infrastructure in Catalonia and affecting our competitiveness.
They say the Catalan pro-independence movement is a bunch of radical nationalists, but a pro-independence party has made a man born in Andalucia, an opponent of independence, and with mediocre Catalan-language skills President of Catalonia.
They attack the Catalan administration when it suits them, and other times they use their polls.

Well, here is another poll for you Jack:

Article from Avui

PDF file (467Kb).

And another, older survey.
PowerPoint file (640Kb).

In any case, what do surveys and polls prove. If you are so sure, why not allow a democratic referendum to take place? What are you scared off?

Care to comment about the issue raised in the post?

Jack said...

Rab darling:

I quoted a poll from the regional government of Catalonia. There's no manipulation/lie/insult there. Stop writing rubbish. That poll has been published by the "generalitat" and you know what that means:

If > 70% of catalans (exactly 77.4% according to that official communication) feels comfortable being part of a Spanish state, in whatever form, then you have to accept it. That's democracy. That's democratic will. Though, you have the right to speak and let us know your opinion, but it is by no means representative.

And stop quoting 3rd class sectarian-like media like avui. It's like quoting "Mein Kampf" to justify right-wing politics. It's by no means objective.

Rab, go to your fiancée and let her give you a massage. You are in dire need of one.

Jack "el coco".

Rab said...

And once again Jack:
- Makes an unnecessary personal remark.
- Uses patronising language. I am not your darling, you Catalanophobe bigot.
- Fails to address the issue of the post. This is a constant.
- Shows his sectarianism and prejudice by attacking a newspaper which does not agree with his narrow-minded hatred of anything remotely Catalan. I guess ABC, El Mundo and Libertad Digital are objective of course…
- This academic survey was published and conducted by an University, as opposed to being commissioned by the government. It is just that Avui was one of the few papers to report on the survey. The pro-Spanish press kept quiet. To me that’s quite third class and sectarian media.

More than Jack “el coco”, you are Jack “the cock”.

Let's try again: care to comment about the issue raised in the post?

Anonymous said...

Adelante, gadgetobrazo (collejeador)

Lo pondría en inglés si supiera.


Jack said...

Robert, let's hope you get it now, otherwise you're a hopeless case:

Guys like you abuse sport events as a platform to make pressure to GET a political status (independent country), that they do not have yet and don't get by using the political instruments they have in hand (congress debates, referendums).

Spain doesn't have to use any sport event to obtain ANY additional political status, it is already a state, by democracy, law and constitution. A constitution which was approved by the overwhelming majority of Catalans in 1978 as you may well know. (Maybe you deleted it from your brain because you didn't like that fact).

Rab said...

Jack, I’d think you are losing the plot if I didn’t know that you are just very obtuse.
Unable to provide any decent, well reasoned arguments, you just keep shifting the goalposts, avoiding to tackle any of the issues put to you.

This football victory for Spain has been used for political purposes:
+ There have been numerous calls for national unity. What’s national unity got to do with a football victory? If that is not an attempt to alter the political status then I don’t know what it is.
+ There have been numerous political attacks against those who would like to see Catalonia to compete in the international level. If Scotland can do it, why not Catalonia? There is not a single, rational, logical reason why a stateless nation (Scotland) is able to compete and another stateless nation (Catalonia) is prohibited from doing so. There is one reason: the narrow-mindedness of many people and the lack of democratic values of the Spanish state when it comes to the aspirations of Catalonia.

Now you are trying to tells us that cries of “Arriba España” and national unity above all, etc, are not political? Give us a break!
The Spanish media and politicians have used this football event to pursue a political agenda: undermining Catalan aspirations for competing at international level and to promote a vision of Spain that is unitarist, uniform and which treats some nations within the Spanish state with disdain and as second class citizens.

You mention the 1978 Constitution. This is the Constitution that was voted under threat of the military and the fascists 30 years ago. 30 years!

So what? Did the clock of democracy stop in 1978?

Jack said...

Rab, either you are stubborn or deaf:

The fact that Scotland can play international football competitions, is considered a weird thing. Probably only tolerated because it was one of the founding countries of football, that's all. Do you see an Olympic team of Scotland? Of course you don't, they compete in the United Kingdom team. Got it?

The participation at international tournaments is a consequence of a confirmed political status and not a platform to obtain such a status. Gather 90% of the inhabitants of Catalonia for independence, whatever price it takes, and you can have your little independent country.

But as long as the majority of the inhabitants of Catalonia feel being catalan AND spanish, you have to respect their cheer: Viva España, visca Espanya!

Rab said...

I think that nothing surpasses your stubbornness.

Scotland, Faroe Islands, Wales, Northern Ireland, etc, there are many stateless nations that are allowed to compete in international competitions, and it is nothing to do with their “political status”, present or aspirational, whatever that means. It is all to do with some nation-states (UK, Denmark) being more respectful and democratic about their minorities than others.

The political will and the social desire (majority in the Parliament) exists in Catalonia to have separate teams but the Spanish states prohibits that. Get it? Will you respect a motion by the Catalan parliament asking for official Catalan teams?


Now tell us exactly why Catalonia cannot have its own national teams allowed in other international competitions.

By the way, I notice that the website is available in Spanish and Catalan. That’s more than can be said of any website of any Spanish-wide sporting association.

Jack said...

Robert, here's the straightforward roadmap for a Catalan football team competing in European, world and galactical championships; this is the way Kosovo did it:

1st: Get independent by political ways (referendums and elections with overwhelming majorities and minimal abstinences)
2nd: Get an own league and national team (consequence of n°1)
3rd: Compete in championships (consequence of n°2)

When the day comes, that the majority of the inhabitants of Spain agree with the independence of Catalonia, you are free to leave. I may remind you, that also in Switzerland cantons cannot leave the Swiss confederation at will by themselves, it has to be approved by the majority of the whole Swiss citizens because it affects the whole country, everybody and everything. That's democracy.

You have only one way (you are already doing it): Seed even more hatred between catalan and non-catalan spaniards until they get so sick and tired of each other, that they prefer to walk alone. However, don't complain later on that people think ill of you because you couldn't stop denigrating your neighbours.

Rab said...

Again you write complete nonsense, always avoiding to get to grips with the issue, with complete disregard for reality:

1)Get independent.
Nonsense. Scotland or Wales are not independent and they have their own teams.

2)Get an own league and national league.
Nonsense. Welsh teams play in the English leagues (eg: Cardiff City).

3) Compete in championships
Nonsense again. We are competing in an international championship (see link above) without any political interference.

Jack’s dixit: “When the day comes, that the majority of the inhabitants of Spain agree with the independence of Catalonia, you are free to leave."
Listen Jack, Catalonia will become an independent nation-state when the majority of Catalans decide to do so. The rest of Spain have no say in the future of Catalonia. It is called national self-determination. It is a democratic thing, get it? Or are you in favour of sending the tanks in?

Again, Scotland and the UK provide a democratic example of how to deal with stateless nations in a multinational state: let the people decide freely and without impositions.

Keep trying Jack.

jack said...

Roberto, stop contaminating the blogosphere with your trash:

I doubt Welsh teams like Cardiff City would be allowed to play in the Premier league, if they would be among the best teams there: Soon English teams would complain, that the Welsh teams are impeding the English teams to play in the UEFA cup and that they could afford playing in their own Welsh league.

Did you know, that FC Vaduz from Liechtenstein just ascended to the first Swiss football league and that they have to pay an extra fee to play there? Did you also know, that FC Vaduz cannot become Swiss football champion even after winning the Swiss championship because they are not a Swiss team? Why don't you mention that? I thought Switzerland was a model for Spain... wasn't it(?). I think this is a viable model for the FC Barcelona to play in the Spanish league after Catalonia gaining independence, don't you think?

It's time that you wake up from your daydream and start living in the real world, Roberto. If you want independence you'll have to face a couple of drawbacks as well. But you don't have the "collons" for that. You want only the good things of independence, but without hazarding any consequences. And if you have to take any losses, you always blame the neighbours. That's cheap, Roberto.

Why don't you mention, that there is no Scottish Olympic team? How about the example of Switzerland and its cantons handling independence? Any comments on that? Hello?

Rab said...


I see you are losing your cool. Take it easy man.

My name is not Roberto, it is Robert. Robert, in Catalan. Sorry if that upsets you but that’s the way it is boy. I decide what’s my name, and it what language. In pretty much the same way as Catalan people will decide our own future, get it?

I know that when I was born my birth certificate was printed with my name as Roberto. But that was because at the time Catalan language was banned. My parents could not baptise me as Robert. It was illegal to use a Catalan name. Illegal Jack. Forbidden.
This is the background to all this Jack boy: Catalan language has been repressed for centuries under Spanish laws. I could not change my identity documents until 1990s. Shocking, isn’t it?

Listen Jack, I understand that you are unable to provide any kind of coherent argument against why Catalan teams are prohibited from participating in international competitions and you come up with hypothetical scenarios and irrelevant parallels. But you, time and time again, fail to address the issue as a matter of principle:

+ Why Catalan teams are not allowed to compete in international competitions and when they do, as with the hockey example above, they are subject to a boycott by the Spanish authorities and media?

Anyway, fancy talking about Switzerland? What about cultural policy, devolved powers and fiscal autonomy? Is that the model for Catalonia and Spain as well?

And that’s the problem Jack. You pick and choose to suit your agenda, whereas I and many others argue on the basis of principle: the democratic principle of being free to decide without imposition, threats of violence, media manipulation, etc.

You choose Kosovo when it suits you and you choose Switzerland when it suits you. You pick and choose and you twist it round and up and down until your argument, whatever it is you aim to support, becomes a mish-mash of this and that and the other.

In the end, the only thing that transpires, the only idea that comes out of your rantings is your profound antipathy, your animosity towards anyone and anything that would help, however insignificant it might be, the cause of political, cultural, social and economic emancipation of Catalonia outwith the framework of the Spanish state.

Your argument is not defined by a principled stand or any coherent ideology, but by a predetermined outcome: Catalonia is part of Spain and that’s the end of it and if you don’t like that’s too bad. At least you could have the courage to admit that.

Trust me on this: I and many others will take anything that comes with independence Jack, and more people would join us if it was not for the veiled threats that the Spanish state makes against anyone who defies their unitarist dogma. Heard of Articulo 8 of the Spanish Constitution? Do you support the Army chiefs who are in favour of the use of military violence to suppress the democratic right of Catalonia to self-determination? Yes or no will do thanks.

I am a member of FC Barcelona. I and many others will not give a damn about which league our club will compete if the goal of becoming an independent nation-state in Europe is within reach.

So Scotland does not have an Olympic team. So what? They have their own football, rugby, etc, national teams in other disciplines, they play in the Commonwealth Games under their own flag. They have the right and are allowed to compete. We have the right but we are not allowed.
Why the Spanish state denies the same right to Catalonia?

Anyway, this is now boring Jack. But I see that you keep bringing politics into the debate all the time. If nothing else, your blinkered replies confirm the central premise (remember?) of this post: those who claim that politics and sport don’t mix are only too happy to do so when it suits their agenda.
Thanks for your help.

Jack said...

Don't worry, Roberto, I'm not losing control. Proof of this is, that I don't have to write any blog to justify how much I despise, scorn and spurn my neighbours. I leave this job to you. I have more important things to do.

I remind you, that it was you, Roberto, who brought this whole thing up and to mix politics with sport. Having a national team and competing in international competitions is the consequence of results at ballot boxes due to overwhelming voting results. And that's not the case for Catalonia, where the majority feels being Catalan AND Spanish.

And I remember phrases of guys like you, who like to quote multicultural countries like Switzerland or Belgium as an economic model for Spain to follow - but only if it suits you. If it doesn't fit into your ideas, you say: "I don't care what they do!". So?

Maybe you never signed a contract in your whole life, but if you sign a contract, and the democratically approved Spanish constitution is kind of a contract, you cannot simply jump off. Otherwise everybody is also free to ignore and disregard what the Catalan "estatut" is claiming. But I am sure, that would be a major post in your blog if such an evil and unfair thing would happen, right?

So, your strategy is clear: Denigrate, libel, backbite, calumniate and vilify everything related to your non-catalan neighbour so that at the end you stand there like an innocent angel. But as we all know very well, Catalonia profited highly being part of Spain last century by receiving great amounts of money to build up their infrastructure while other regions in Spain didn't even have running water in their houses.

But go on with your one-sided fairy-tales, Roberto, we know you and your strategy much better than you think.

Rab said...

Jack the Bore,

You keep writing lies and rubbish and, in a demonstration of your infantile attitude, you keep calling me Roberto, which is not my name.

In this regard, you are very much like many Spanish nationalists who insist in translating peoples’ names into Spanish without their consent. It shows your disregard and lack of respect for any culture that is not centred around the God-given supremacy of the Spanish language.

Get this if you can Jack: my name is Robert, in Catalan, however much it upsets you. Deal with it.

Then, unable to deal with the central premise of the post (that people who claim that politics and sport should not mix are only too happy to do so when it suits their agenda) you start writing lies about what I write in this blog. It is your usual tactic: lies, manipulation and avoidance. I have dealt with it before in previous posts so I will not go there again.

What comes out in your writing is that you perceive any attempt to pursue a policy of emancipation (at any level) for Catalonia as an “attack” on Spain and the Spanish. This is of course nonsense as I have written before. My family are originally from the south of Spain and most of my cousins and best friends are Spanish. I speak fluently English, Spanish and Catalan, even though Catalan was banned in schools when I was born. Thus, I have no grudge against my “neighbours”, some of which are family relatives. I most definitely have a grudge against the structure and ethos of a state, the Spanish state in its current or previous forms, that is unable to deal in a respectful and democratic way with some of its component parts, namely those who have a different language, culture, history and political identity.

Since you are unable to challenge this premise you insult me and try to dismiss what I write using childish remarks, but such is the poverty of your arguments.

1) “I have more important things to do”.
You seem to be here a lot though.

2) “Having a national team and competing in international competitions is the consequence of results at ballot boxes due to overwhelming voting results.”
Absolute nonsense. As we all know, Scotland and other stateless nations are allowed to compete internationally without any political process taking place.

3) “And that's not the case for Catalonia, where the majority feels being Catalan AND Spanish.”
Well, again, most Scottish people feel like being Scottish and British and that does not prevent them from having their own national teams. In any case, the above survey link challenges your statement. If you are so sure, why Catalan nationalist parties have an overall majority in the Catalan parliament?

4)“Maybe you never signed a contract in your whole life, but if you sign a contract, and the democratically approved Spanish constitution is kind of a contract, you cannot simply jump off.“
I earn a living analysing, amongst other things, the probability of companies adhering to debt covenants, a pretty long and complex contract. Anyway, what an irrelevant parallel, again.

Read and learn Jackie boy:
if you know anything about contracts, you will be aware of rescission clauses, breach of contract provisions and so on. A contract is not a contract if a party is not given recourse to cancel the terms of the contract or walk away from it through free will. That’s not a contract Jack, that’s a sentence, an imposition and enforced acceptance of non-negotiable terms and conditions without any option to compensation or appeal.
In this case, the 1978 Spanish Constitution prevents any party from seeking recourse to cancel and allows one party the use of violence to prevent another party from uniterally rescinding the contract.

Try to understand this: democracy is not an outcome but an evolving process. Democracy in Spain did not stop in 1978.

You seem to have problems grasping the concept of political and social change, particularly if said change is enacted by the free will of Catalan people without interference from other parties.

5)“So, your strategy is clear: Denigrate, libel, backbite, calumniate and vilify everything related to your non-catalan neighbour so that at the end you stand there like an innocent angel.”
I just state the facts Jack, sorry if that upsets you becasue you cannot provide any rational and logical counter-arguments. Clearly there is a party that has suffered centuries of imposition, including linguistic repression, and whose cultural and political identity, economic wellbeing, and social cohesion is under threat due to the structure and workings of a centralist, unitarist and uniform Spanish state which is unable to deal respectfully with some of its component parts.

6)“Catalonia profited highly being part of Spain last century by receiving great amounts of money to build up their infrastructure while other regions in Spain didn't even have running water in their houses.”
The Industrial Revolution allowed Catalonia to build infrastructure to support its own economic development. This happened in the late 18th and 19th centuries and consolidated in the 20th century. It is called investment and economic development. Catalonia did not “receive” any money. It just invested in an efficient way what was left after paying central government taxes used to subsidise other areas of Spain. If the Industrial Revolution did not materialise in many areas of Spain it is because of many historical and cultural reasons. I suggest you read history books about the XIX and XX century and how the onset of the Carlists Wars impacted the industrialisation of Spain.

7)“But go on with your one-sided fairy-tales, Roberto, we know you and your strategy much better than you think.”
It is not one-sided Jack, it is just stating the facts. If you don’t like the facts and avoid addressing them, or rubbish my argument with personal insults or infantile attitudes (“Roberto”?) it is because you have a massive democratic deficit: you are unable to grasp the concept of Catalonia deciding its own future freely and without any interference or veiled threats from the Spanish state.

Once again, thank you for confirming the central premise of the post:
Those who claim that politics and sport should not mix, are only too happy to do so when it suits their agenda.