FanShot

OT: Sports and politics

11

I thought this opinion column from the Barcelona daily La Vanguardia by Pilar Rahola might be of general interest. Rahola is kind of a Hillary Clinton feminist liberal; she served a couple of terms in the Catalan regional legislature for the Republican Left party, which isn't too far left. She's anti-Islamist because of her feminism, which leads her to be one of the few pro-American, pro-Israeli lefties around here. The topic is the Qatar Foundation's purchasing sponsorship rights to the FC Barcelona first team's jersey. This has kicked up a stink around here. Sandro Rosell is the elected president of the Barça club; the club members vote for who's going to be the equivalent of the owner. Barça, by the way, is technically a nonprofit, a sports club owned by its members. "Dear Mr. Sandro Rosell, at which moment did you change from negotiating your club's commercial agreement with a foundation to becoming the lead propagandist for a theocracy? I ask because there are many ways to justify the pollution of a sports jersey with the logo of a dictatorship, but the very last should be saying that in that dictatorship people live fantastically. "The sentence you let loose, "I don't know whether Qatar is a dictatorship, but I know that its citizens are very happy," can only be justified by a lapse of unconsciousness, because not even ignorance justifies it. Or is it normal for the president of the Barça to swear that he doesn't know if the commercial deal he signs is with a dictatorship or with Bambi? "And besides, ignorance or unconsciousness, what he shows above all is a great lack of memory. Or hasn't he heard the statement, "I don't know if Franco was a dictator but I do know that during the Franco period we lived very well?" It's true. There are some people in dictatorships who live very well, thrilled with dominating their shadowy mudpits where they can do whatever they want, protected by impunity. "Abuses in democracies are possible, but they are illegal. Abuses in dictatorships are part of the DNA of the system. And I would like to remind you of a sensitive subject, Mr. Rosell: the club you represent had a president murdered by the Francoists, and became important as a center of resistance against the dictatorship. Or didn't you know that, either? "Therefore, Mr. Rosell, if you don't know whether Qatar is a dictatorship or not, you are irresponsible. If you know it and you deny it, you are a propagandist. And if you don't know and you don't want to find out, you are insensitive. But in any case, I think it's terrible that you don't care and you say they live very happily there. "In the superluxury hotels for Westerners who come looking for money, happiness undoubtedly reigns. But are the thousands of foreign workers who have no rights happy? The homosexuals who have to hide like rats in order not to be persecuted? The women who want to live under a system that does not segregate or degrade them? "I won't even talk about the barbarism of the speeches of Yusuf al Qaradaui, the emirate's source of inspiration. I am talking about devastating truths. They're important, damn it! I feel sad about the agreement that links the Barça to a dictatorship. But now I'm terrified, because you're not resigned to the necessity of a deal, you're thrilled about it! "To end up, a question: Is it true that the Qatar Foundation has demanded an apology because (Barça defender Gerard) Piqué visited the Wailing Wall on a tourist vacation? Because if it is, all the alarms ought to go off. We're not just dealing with selling the Barça's jersey. You've sold freedom! Of course that's how it starts: first you sell the jersey, and then you sell your soul. Pure Goethe."

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