I'm sitting on the sofa watching the beginning of the football game Spain v England. I watch the protocol before the game, when all the players line up and listen to the national anthem of their country (Spain) or their nation (England) and I see all those fans who travel thousands of miles every year to follow their beloved teams around the world.
Immediately, some of the comments that I've read in some European newspapers come to my mind: "the Catalan team is an excuse for the nationalists to reinforce their identity". And I wonder.what is the difference between the Spain v England game and any game that the Catalan team could play? Is not a nationalistic act when the Spanish or the English supporters stand up to pay respect or sing their national anthem?
Therefore what is the difference between the English team and the Catalan team? What is the difference between the celebrations of the Brazilian fans when Brazil won the world cup and the Catalan fans celebrating the roller hockey world cup?
Throughout history we have learnt not to take some of the nationalistic Spanish press, which is majority in Spain, too seriously.
On the 26th of March, when all the Spanish press published the recognition of the Catalan federation as member of the FIRS, the first thing I did was pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. It's going to be tough from now on - I thought to myself.
We were all very happy though we knew that all was just getting started, and from that same day the manipulation and political instigation would commence. We knew that the Spanish press and institutions would do every thing they could to demonize the requests of the Catalans and of all the people admitting their support to the Catalans. They are good at doing this. They are good because they have been doing this for a long time and because they possess the resources to do it.
So what's happened over the last 8 months?
A Spanish newspaper published no long ago that the Catalan federation had literally bought their provisional recognition by paying the FIRS a total of 80 000 euros per year. The money would be funding the FIRS headquarters in Barcelona and would provide help to countries with low economic resources. This same newspaper failed to mention though, that the Spanish and the Portuguese federation also funded the headquarters of the FIRS in the past!
It is very easy to manipulate the information and some Spanish press are very good at this. They just sent the alleged "buy of votes" to some internet site and the news spread very quickly all over the world.
By the end of October, the Argentinean site patincarrera.com stated that the recognition of Catalonia would mean the end of the possibilities of any roller sport to become Olympic. And I think to myself: what interest could someone from Argentina have in avoiding the recognition of the Catalan federation? Could anyone who doesn't understand the reality in Catalonia write such a bunch of lies in a serious and allegedly independent website like patincarrera.com?
Again the word that comes to mind immediately is that of "manipulation".
I've seen hockey and skating in Catalonia and in my hometown Vic, since I was born. I have as many friends that practise hockey as friends that play football. I see the Catalan players and coaches full of joy. An emotion that I have never seen in any other hockey player before. Their eyes shine when they talk about the Catalan team and so do mine. I can't believe that someone can be that manipulative and say so many lies without even knowing the land they are talking about. If they knew a little bit about hockey in Catalonia, they would know that what the Catalan federation wants over all is the best for the world of roller sports, and that they haven't stopped working for the good of this sport.
I hope that the people that will vote for or against the recognition of the Catalan federation would consider all these arguments and will decide to allow my nation, Catalonia, the right to compete like any other nation that belongs to the FIRS. I hope that these people will be guided by common sense and the sportive sentiment that is leading the majority of the Catalan people.
Marc, a hockey lover