BARCELONA legend and former club captain Carles Puyol has landed himself in hot water with segments of the Catalan support after emphasising that he is Spanish on a Chinese television advert,as identity politics continue to play an ever increasing role in Spanish society.
“I’m the ex-captain of Barcelona FC. I’ve won six leagues, three Champions Leagues, a World Cup and a European Cup. I am Carles Puyol and I am Spanish.” the retired player said while promoting Spanish football in China.
The emphatic declaration of Spanish identity by a natural-born Catalan, who captained Catalonia’s favourite export for a decade, has jarred with nationalist minded supporters, many of whom have denounced the tenacious right back as a ‘traitor’, ‘deserter’ and ‘sell-out’, igniting an argument that has seen others leap to his defence.
Puyol was capped more a 100 times for the Spanish national side and was a key element in their 2010 World Cup glory in a side that was heavily dependent on Barcelona and Catalonian talent, but since then the movement for independence has grown, while Madrid has stubbornly refused to entertain even the notion of a referendum.
The result seems to be inflamed tensions on a local and keyboard warrior level with the Puyol controversy merely the latest in a long line of incidents pitting Catalonian against Spanish, including two female promoters of the national team allegedly being denounced as ‘Spanish whores’ and assaulted in Barcelona during Euro 2016.