Homage to Catatonia

Spain's celebrity fans continue to celebrate

I wish I had thought of that title on Sunday. Although the game wasn't 1990 Final boring.

So let's talk about Catalonia for a second. I've long suspected that the reason Spain hasn't won a World Cup before wasn't because Spanish players weren't good enough, and that the political divisions were nothing more than a convenient excuse that simultaneously bashed the rival club (cf., Old Firm fans blaming each other when Scotland goes to the World Cup and turns out to be Scotland).

Turns out the political divisions are still a story, even in post-orgasmic bliss:

Spaniards unite

World Cup win will only paper over Spanish cracks

New Republic notes Catalan pro-Spanish sentiment, for now

Walter Oppenheimer: World Cup win won't solve problems

I have to think that it wasn't just victory that has turned Catalonia Spanish, however briefly. We're familiar by now with the makeup of the Spanish squad, but just to recap:

Real Madrid: 5 on the squad, 3 starters, 1 of whom is Basque
Barcelona: 7 on the squad, 6 either started or saw lots and lots of playing time
Villarreal: 1 (guy was born in Catalonia)
Arsenal: 1 (and that guy wore a Barcelona shirt at the pep rally) (well, two of the squad's Barcelona players forced him to wear it, or something)

In other words, this is as close to a Catalan national team as we're likely to see in the World Cup. (Yes, I know there actually is a Catalan national team.)

I think Catalans waving Spanish flags this week is pretty much the same as when Barcelona was loaded with Dutch players, and Catalonia backed Holland in their World Cups much more visibly than Spain. In fact, if this year's team had been a more Real-heavy squad, I would not have been surprised if Barcelona fans actively cheered for Holland on Sunday.

Catalan independence or autonomy are (1) unlikely and (2) sorta outside the scope of this blog. But it's interesting to see how fan loyalties can shift, even those felt as deeply as in Catalonia. If freaking Barcelona fans end up country over club, then that particular argument will be settled for all time.

I think, however, Catalonia's support of Spain is conditional on Spain continuing to field a whole bunch of Catalans and never losing a major tournament.


Long, long-time MLS fans will be interested...er, maybe...in this celebrity opinion of Howard Webb's performance.

A little background. Mr. Dougal was a guest referee in MLS back in the Logan era, when the league had a program to bring in experienced foreign referees. I still think it's a good idea. Anyway, Dougal handed out cards like a casino during his brief stay here, and various MLS luminaries screamed themselves purple about it.

(In my opinion, Dougal was right in 1999 - MLS was roller derby that year - and is right now. But your opinion might differ. Not that I want to hear opinions that differ from mine - what do you think I am, Ives Galarcep?)