Interrelationship between el Clásico and Independence Movement in Catalonia, Spain



Babanli, Yusif

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Catalonia is one of 17 autonomous regions of Spain which has pursued independence from Spain for several decades. Over the years, Madrid responded by blocking legality of independence movement through various means of political power, including arresting and jailing activists, depriving Catalans of cultural rights during Franco’s rule over Spain, and refusing to grant Catalans a wider political autonomy. Many in Catalonia seem to have responded to this pressure by reaffirming their national identity through their Barcelona-based football team FC Barcelona. Being the namesake representation of Catalonia’s political and cultural capital Barcelona, the club has become the leading instrument of Catalans’ political expression within the context of the Catalonian-Castilian conflict. Football in Spain as a whole, and specifically within the context of Madrid-Barcelona relationship, serves as an alternative platform where the conflict manifests itself in unconventional ways when it is suppressed on the political arena. There is, therefore, an inverse relationship between political processes involving Spain and its region of Catalonia, and sports. Fusion of political, national and social identity in sports serves as an enabler and a potential booster of mobilization in Catalonian politics. Sacred values, of which Catalan football represented by Barça is one, are the primary drivers in the process. This thesis examines the relationship between Barça fandom and the Catalan secessionist movement. The key findings are based on the results of the quantitative study of a sample of Catalan football fans conducted in September 2017 which explored the feelings and emotions of the fans in relation to the football rivalry, socio-cultural symbolism in Catalonia and politics of violence.


This thesis has been embargoed for 5 years and will not be available until December 2022 at the earliest.


Catalonia, Barcelona, Real Madrid, El Clásico, Independence of Catalonia, Separatism