In English Voices From Spain

Little unimportant lessons

Photo: Mpho Mojapelo | Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish. ´Pequeñas lecciones no importantes´. Andrea Mármol. The Objective.

23 April 2018

As it happened also with so many others, my parents didn’t manage to pass on to me their passion for football. They tried their best, and I’m sure that for a couple of seasons I was the girl in my class at school that knew the most about the football calendar, who faced who and how the Liga was progressing. I guess that at some point close to the age of ten I found, as Vázquez-Montalban would say, something more important than football amongst all those routine matters. Or maybe I just decided to keep only the important bits. In any case, the signs of becoming a F.C. Barcelona supporter that would have made my dad happy are now nothing more than a couple of visits to the Camp Nou, if not just having some patatas bravas in the neighborhood.

I don’t like football, and this should be taken into account regarding any honest remark I could do on the subject. For me, being a supporter is more related to family ties than to any ties with the club itself. Nevertheless, talking about football sometimes creates conflicting emotions hard to reconcile. I guess that, as other Barcelona supporters, I have developed some disaffection towards a club that for years has been manifesting political positions contrary to the sentiment of a good part of its fans, in particular considering the supposed global vocation of F. C. Barcelona that begins with its supporters in the whole of Spain. It is tedious to identify oneself as a half-hearted supporter due to the close relationship between the club and the Catalan nationalism since years ago. I remember with sadness the bitter comparison between the statements of the blue-and-red team and those of the Español [TN: the other football team in the city of Barcelona] during last autumn, in the days after 1-O. The latter had suddenly become the best team in Catalonia for many of us. In that moment there were first and second class supporters of Catalan football: some whose club tried hard not to exclude them, and others who nobody consulted.

It’s probable that one’s adopted order of priorities has an influence on the degree of importance that one gives to the political orientation of a club we follow, but in my case it is a continuous feeling. On Saturday, of course, I celebrated all and each of the goals of F. C. Barcelona in the final match of the King’s Cup, which I followed from Madrid. During the day, it seemed that there wasn’t other conversation theme in the capital, dwelling of supporters of both Sevilla and Barcelona teams that made visible the reason of their visit in the hours before the match. A group of Barcelona supporters was leaving a commerce in which I was waiting in a queue, and I heard the clients before me sharing with the shop employee their desire for a victory of Sevilla. Although I understand, and share –probably, in a higher degree- the rejection of the Barça political orientation, I was tempted to meddle in the conversation to explain something that others ended up making evident much better than I could have.

It’s probable that it’s not the ideal scenario, as it shows the humongous politicization of every piece of public life, but the simultaneous presence of Spanish flags and esteladas [TN: the adopted flag of the Catalan secessionists] in the Barcelona sector of the spectators during the final match of the King’s Cup may be the most visible proof of the plurality of a club that has been ignored by its management in many occasions. As it also happens in the political sphere, it’s imperative to break the synecdoche that makes the part represent the whole. How many Barcelona fans have felt with even more intensity the impulse to stop supporting their own team for the exactly same reasons that the people I overheard were criticising? As among the Catalans that oppose secessionism, much effort is invested to oppose the monolithic vision that some want to impose, defending political pluralism where it is harder to do so. I hope that that image reached all those who hold doubts, since football, at the end, maybe is after all a not very important matter that casts light on the things that truly are.

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