I thought I would write a summary of an old article that appeared in The Guardian last March when Catalonia was first recognised for the FIRS.
It is 8 months old but still relevant for a few reasons: it is the only article that has appeared in the British press until now, and it is interesting to note the relaxed tone and easy approach to the issue and also the comparison that is made between Catalonia and Scotland and Wales.
Catalonia gets its skates on
Giles Tremlett in Madrid
Wednesday March 31, 2004
Catalonia has won a small victory in its historic battle for recognition as a national entity separate from Spain.
A decision by the International Roller Skating Federation to allow a Catalan national team into the qualifying rounds of the roller-hockey world cup this summer has been greeted with jubilation by many Catalans. It introduces a new national anthem and a new flag to international sport.
But it has provoked an angry response from Spain's outgoing conservative government of José María Aznar, a fierce opponent of further autonomy for the eastern region. The government has said it will block the move as the thin end of the wedge for Spanish national teams in all sports as well as a threat to a unified Spain.
The decision has to be ratified in November, but Catalan teams are expected to play in the meantime.
Leaders of Catalonia's semi-autonomous government said that roller skating had opened the door to world recognition that their country, like Scotland or Wales, could be treated, on the sports field at least, as a nation in its own right.
Ever since the 15th century Catalonia has resisted incorporation into the Spanish state and its language and culture; under Franco, use of the Catalan language was banned in public.
Remarkable neutral approach to the controversy.