Barcelona And The Sacrifice Of Principles

One of the more singular quirks of some football rivalries is an appropriation of the moral high ground by one club over another. It can be seen in some ways in the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers, where the perception from the outside has long been of a near-bunker mentality at Ibrox. A similar situation exists in Spain, where Barcelona have, in recent years, become a symbol of something other than just football. FC Barcelona was in itself, long ago, a political statement. Camp Nou was, in Franco’s Spain, the only place where Catalan nationalist feeling could be openly expressed and, although it is now more than three decades since the general’s death, a sense remains that Barcelona stands for something “other”, while Real Madrid are the club of the establishment. This is something that has been, to a degree, exploited by the club itself, particularly in recent years. The slogan “mes que un club” can be viewed through many prisms – as a political statement, a rallying cry to supporters or as a marketing slogan – but if it is taken, as many supporters do (whether rightly or wrongly) take it, as a claim to something approaching moral high ground, the club’s management seems likely to find out over the next few weeks that such a position can be a precarious ledge upon which to stand. Barcelona stand...

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