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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

Has football replaced Catholicism in Spain?

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This article by Canada's leading news magazine on the state of Spanish football perhaps goes too readily down 'the football bubble has burst' route which is the increasing first resort of journalists everywhere.   Undeniably, Spanish football faces big challenges which are in part related to the country's economic, financial and political problems.   It could suffer the kind of decline experienced by Italy's Serie A.

One of the most intruguing suggestions in the article is that football has replaced Catholicism as a community focus in Spain.   I don't know enough about Spain to comment on that, although possibly Catholicism could face the kind of long-term decline that it has experienced in France and Belgium.  When I had an audience with Spain's crown prince in July, we didn't discuss either football or Catholicism.

There has been considerable discussion recently about a possible breakaway by Catalonia.   If La Liga lost the Real Madrid-Barcelona rivalry, it would lose much of its point.   An independent Catalonia could presumably be allowed to have teams in La Liga, although that would raise questions about Scottish teams taking part in the English leagues.   Paradoxically, an independent Scotland might feel more relaxed about that.

Of course, Catalonia might be allowed to stop short of full independence perhaps reviving the sovereignty-association model touted by René Lévesque in Quebec.