(Reuters) - The Catalan nationalist party CiU will win regional parliamentary elections in Spain on November 25, but will not gain an absolute majority, newspaper polls showed on Sunday, weakening any bid for independence...
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Goals from Lionel Messi and the teenager Munir El Haddadi ensured Luis Enrique got his era as Barcelona coach off to a winning start as they beat Elche 3-0.
The Catalans had to play the entire second half with 10 men after Javier Mascherano was sent off but they had earlier taken the lead through Messi, who also grabbed the third, with the exciting Munir, 18, scoring just after half-time.
Only six months ago Munir was playing for Barcelona’s Under-18s but announced himself to the world at Camp Nou on his full debut for the first team after finishing the pre-season as the club’s top scorer, with four goals. The youngster was born to Moroccan parents in Madrid but could be the next Barcelona idol, leaving the pitch to a standing ovation after thrilling the crowd with a lively first appearance...
IT IS not the narrative that Catalan separatists hoped for as they face a stand-off with the Madrid government over a planned independence vote in November. Instead of a debate about evil Castilian conquistadors, their cause has been overshadowed by a scandal over a fallen hero, Jordi Pujol, who served for six terms as leader of Catalonia.
Four weeks ago Mr Pujol admitted that his family had hidden money in Switzerland for the past 35 years. “We never found the right moment to declare it,” he said breezily. The confession comes at an awkward time. Mr Pujol’s hand-picked successor as head of his Convergence and Union (CiU) group, and Catalonia’s current leader, Artur Mas, has promised a referendum on November 9th. Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, will ban it. Separatists hoped this would swell their ranks. But now all the talk is of the 84-year-old Mr Pujol, a political giant in his region...
Barcelona will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after Fifa confirmed it will not be able to sign any players in the next two transfer windows.
Fifa announced on Wednesday that it had rejected Barcelona’s appeal against the sanction imposed in April over breaches of rules around the transfer of under-18 players.
The two-window embargo was placed on hold after Barcelona appealed, but Fifa ruled the club will now be unable to register new players in the January and summer 2015 transfer windows.
Fifa said in a statement: “FC Barcelona is to serve a transfer ban which will see the club prevented from registering any players at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods, starting with the next registration period (January 2015).”
Players aged under 18 can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.
“And now, please give a huge ovation for...” A month after Luis Suárez signed for FC Barcelona and two months before he can play a competitive game for them, the Uruguayan made his first appearance at Camp Nou. Barcelona’s record signing ran on to the pitch at 7.51pm to fireworks and applause from around 40,000 supporters. He then played for his new club for the first time, as a substitute against the Mexican side Club León during Barcelona’s traditional season opener, the Gamper Trophy.
Suárez came on with 14 minutes to go, replacing Rafinha. He did not play alongside Lionel Messi or Neymar, both of whom scored in the first half. By the time he made his entry Barcelona had already made nine changes and led 4-0. It was 5-0 moments later and Sandro added a sixth just before the final whistle...
Jordi Pujol, the first democratically elected President of Catalonia after Franco’s death, embodied the economically powerful and politically awkward region of Spain.
The inventor of a popular antibiotic ointment and imprisoned by the Franco government for singing in Catalan and passing out anti-Franco leaflets during Spain’s dictatorship, he combined an astute business sense with hard work and pride in a heritage beloved by Catalans.
“He’s the man that directed the recovery of self-government and he governed Catalonia as a nation, not a region,” says Josep Rull, the recently named general co-ordinator of Convergéncia Democrática de Catalunya (CDC), the centre-right nationalist party that Mr Pujol founded in 1974. “As a thinker and a statist, he will have an important place in history.”
After being elected president, he struck deals with both the rightwing Partido Popular and the left-leaning Socialists to maintain his grip on power, which lasted for 23 years until 2003.
But Mr Pujol’s brand of canny pragmatism suffered a critical blow when he announced on July 25 this year that, for 34 years, he had been keeping undeclared funds outside Spain...
Barcelona have agreed to loan Gerard Deulofeu to Sevilla for the coming season.
The 20-year-old forward, who spent last season on loan at Everton, has been sent to Andalusia in “an operation designed to maximise his participation and optimise his progression as a player”.
Deulofeu is considered to be one of the most promising young talents to recently emerge from Barcelona’s La Masia football academy. He scored four goals in 29 appearances during an impressive stint on Merseyside...
Sid Lowe: The arrival of the Uruguayan is just one change Barcelona have made this summer as they attempt to tinker with their philosophy
Shirt off, wires on, thumbs up: it is the photograph that dominates the summer and it is the same every time, at every club and for every player. The new signing lies on a treatment table in front of a board bearing the sponsor's name, monitors suckered on to his bare chest, and grins. He raises a thumb or, if the photographer is particularly imaginative, two: the crack completes his medical. Like the bombastic presentation, the hospital shot is part of the ritual that every signing performs.
Except one. This year there was a picture missing: the summer's biggest signing was carried out almost clandestinely. "Luis Suárez is entirely our player," said Barcelona's sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta. It appeared an odd remark but this was something he felt needed saying, as if reassurances were required, as if he had to reiterate that, yes, this transfer had really happened. After all, until then the new man had been the invisible man, stuck in a kind of surreal limbo...
With its internationally renowned architecture, a world famous football team and modern infrastructure, Barcelona has become a magnet for tourists, trade fair delegates and sports fans. What Barcelona wants now is not just visitors, but founders who will stay and set up fast-growing technology businesses...
Spaniards opposed to Catalan independence, who include Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, must be rubbing their hands in glee at the scandal unfolding in the northeast of their country. Jordi Pujol, the father of modern Catalan nationalism and founder of the Convergència Democràtica party, has admitted to tax fraud in an investigation that has already pulled in his son.
The scandal seems likely to disrupt significantly the debate over Catalan independence and, if mismanaged, could lead to a hardening of positions in the pro- and anti-camps. If handled well, however, it could instead provide an opportunity for Mr Rajoy and Artur Mas, head of the centre-right Convergència party and president of Catalonia, to engage more constructively.
For Catalonia, the scandal presents opportunities as well as dangers. There may now be infighting in its governing coalition as Convergència tries to make light of the Pujol affair while others demand a deeper investigation. Mr Pujol has resigned his benefits as former president of the party, but this is unlikely to be enough.
A breakdown in the coalition would result in Mr Mas calling an early election, in which more pro-independence parties could gain power. If that happened, a new Catalan parliament might be tempted to issue a unilateral declaration of independence, plunging the country into a constitutional crisis unparalleled since the transition to democracy in the late 1970s.
Mr Rajoy should therefore take advantage of this moment of Convergència’s relative weakness to engage with Mr Mas’s latest proposals on regional financing and education policies.
By conceding to some of Catalonia’s demands, he could simultaneously stave off early elections there and, in the process, open a more sophisticated debate about the appropriate balance of power between Spain’s regions and its central government...
The Spain midfielder Xavi has announced his retirement from international football.
The Barcelona player, 34, was a member of the teams that won successive major tournaments at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and Euro 2012.
“I have decided to retire from international football,” Xavi told a press conference on Tuesday. “I’m grateful for all those years. It has been a fantastic time.”
“From now on I’m another fan of the Spain team. I’m grateful to everybody at the federation (RFEF), it’s been a marvellous time for me to be there for so many years and have so much success. I’m leaving very proud and I wish them all the best.”...
The legal storm surrounding a former president of Catalunya has significantly worsened in the past few days.
On the same day, two representatives of Spain’s tax agency delivered a formal request for declaration to Mr Pujol at his rural retreat in Queralbs, a small town in the Spanish Pyrenees.
The moves threatened to complicate Catalonia’s drive toward a vote on secession from Spain, which is being led by Mr Pujol’s political heir, Artur Mas.
The demand for bank account data also widens the scandal surrounding 84-year old Mr Pujol, whose son is separately under investigation for collecting illegal commissions on government contracts and moving the money overseas.
Sir, Certainly, the wrongdoings – tax fraud at the very least – of the former Catalan president Jordi Pujol (“Catalonia’s shame, a stain on Spain”, editorial, August 13) are causing quite a stir regarding the argument over Catalan independence. But to expect that the scandal will foster “a more sophisticated debate about the appropriate balance of power between Spain’s regions and its central government” from those who are “rubbing their hands in glee” is, as far as Catalonia is concerned, simply unrealistic.
Will Mariano Rajoy “take advantage of this moment of Convergència’s relative weakness to engage with Artur Mas’s latest proposals on regional financing and education policies”? I don’t think so. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that Mr Rajoy will yet again miss out on the opportunity to engage constructively with Mr Mas on any proposal on regional financing, education policies and the political status of Catalonia whatsoever. The Spanish premier won’t concede to any of Catalonia’s demands, however blatantly legitimate they may be, as this would be widely regarded across Spain as yielding to so-called “Catalan blackmail”.
If anything, Mr Rajoy will profit from Mr Pujol’s scandal, as it will undermine Convergència in favour of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, the 80-odd-year-old, ever-advocating-independence Catalan party, thus pushing independentistas further towards a unilateral declaration of independence...
In less than a month, Scotland will decide whether or not it wants independence. But will the referendum have an impact across Europe? Metro looks at the other states who want their own rule.
O flower of Scotland, when will we see your like again?
Perhaps a lot sooner than you might expect. Scots will go to the polls next month to decide on their country’s future, but the referendum on independence could spark similar moves in other countries.
Across Europe, independence fever is spreading – from Scotland to Spain, from Cornwall to Catalonia. The eyes of nationalists in several nations will be on Scotland’s referendum on September 18.
‘It’s being followed very closely in Spain, notably in Catalonia,’ said Michael Keating, professor of politics at the University of Aberdeen and director of the ESRC Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change.
‘That’s the place in Europe where there’s most interest in what’s happening in Scotland because the Catalan government is proposing a referendum of their own.’...
The Barcelona coach, Luis Enrique, has confirmed Luis Suárez will make his debut in Monday night’s friendly against the Mexican side León.
The Uruguay forward had been forced to train away from his new team-mates after completing a £75m move to the Catalan club in July, due to the four-month ban incurred for biting the Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.
However, he now has two group sessions under his belt after the Court of Arbitration for Sport relaxed the ”excessive” elements of the suspension, and Enrique plans to hand the 27-year-old some game time on Monday...
In just over a month's time, a country that probably doesn't want independence from another will get a vote on whether to separate, and a fiercely autonomous region elsewhere that almost certainly does want to secede from a larger nation won't be allowed to. Such is Europe in 2014.
By 19 September, if scores of polls are to be believed, the question of self-determination for Scotland will be buried for generations. Not a single census on how Scots will vote in the first plebiscite on independence has suggested that they will support their government and create arguably the greatest constitutional crisis the UK has ever known.
Meanwhile, just over 1,000 miles away, the regional administration in Barcelona, which can point to a wealth of evidence to suggest that Catalans would at least like the opportunity to express their opinion, will continue to be frustrated. A week before the referendum in Scotland, hundreds of thousands, perhaps as many as a million, are again expected on the streets of Barcelona to demand that their voice be heard. And as before, the government in Madrid will likely ignore them...
SPANIARDS call a chat between two people unwilling to listen to each other a conversation between besugos—the grimacing, pop-eyed sea bream. The description often suits their politicians’ discussions, but perhaps not for much longer. With Spain’s traditional parties in decline and Catalan separatism on the rise, they may soon be forced into a proper dialogue.
The prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, missed one chance to start such a discussion when he met Catalonia’s regional president, Artur Mas, on July 30th. Catalonia’s regional parliament, where Mr Mas’s Convergence and Union (CiU) coalition is propped up by the separatist Catalan Republican Left (ERC), plans to pass a law in early September setting a non-binding referendum on independence for November 9th. Mr Rajoy, who wants to ban the referendum, will ask judges to declare it unconstitutional. That would force Mr Mas to square a circle: he has pledged both to stay within the law and to consult Catalans on independence.
One way out might be to bring forward regional elections, though the ERC would probably win as more extreme parties snatch votes off moderates like the Socialists. The latter propose a “third way” solution of greater federalism that is gaining traction with voters across Spain. If, however, Scotland votes for independence from the United Kingdom in its referendum on September 18th, that would provide a precedent in the European Union and boost Catalans’ separatist passions...
Luis Suarez's four-month ban for biting an opponent has been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).
But the Uruguay striker, 27, can now train and play in friendly matches, with new club Barcelona confirming: "He will join the first team's training session, scheduled for Friday.
The public presentation of Suarez as a new Barcelona player will be held on Monday at the Camp Nou."
It is not known if he will play in Monday's game with Mexico's Club Leon.
A full explanation of the Cas ruling, which still prevents him from playing "organised" matches but now allows him to take part in all "football-related activities", will be published at a later date...
Jonathan Wilson: In 1997-2000 the present managers of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Chelsea, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Southampton were all either playing or working at Camp Nou
In 1997, Louis van Gaal arrived at Barcelona. He had initially been approached to be youth coordinator but with Bobby Robson’s side struggling in the league – despite winning both the Copa del Rey and the Cup Winners’ Cup – he was asked to take over as manager, with Robson taking on an ambassadorial role, becoming, as he put it “the world’s highest-paid scout”.
On Robson’s recommendation, Van Gaal took on José Mourinho, who had become far more than a translator, to be his “third assistant”. In his midfield, he had Pep Guardiola and Luís Enrique. A year later, Phillip Cocu joined the midfield and Ronald Koeman arrived as an assistant coach. Frank de Boer was signed the year after that. Or, to put it another way, in 1999-2000, the present managers of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Chelsea, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Southampton were all either playing or working at Camp Nou.
The story is told of a senior British sports writer seeing Van Gaal at a dinner. A huge fan, he dashed over. “This man,” he said to his wife, by way of introduction, “is one of the greatest coaches of all time. He invented modern football.” Alarmed he may have gone too far, he looked at Van Gaal in embarrassment. Van Gaal just nodded...
The Uruguayan’s appeal expected to concentrate on the fact that the ban should be limited to the player’s appearance in internationals
Luis Suárez’s legal team are confident they can persuade the court of arbitration for sport to halve the four-month ban imposed by Fifa for biting when the appeal hearing takes place on Friday.
The Barcelona striker’s lawyers have travelled to CAS headquarters in Lausanne for the hearing and are expected to argue that as the biting incident took place while playing for Uruguay in the World Cup the ban should be limited to international football...
Exclusive The Neymar scandal and Luis Suárez signing have left a new president with much to do, Rory Smith writes
It is written on its body and it is scoured on its soul. Més que un club. It is the phrase that defines Barcelona to such an extent that it is cast into the stands at the Nou Camp. It is their motto and their mission statement.,,
Catalonia health agency's move to tighten rules follows freeze on licences as clubs' membership in region soars to 165,000
Catalonia's public health agency has proposed strict new measures to regulate cannabis clubs in the region, amid claims that Barcelona is on its way to rivalling Amsterdam as a smoker's haven.
Amsterdam has tightened restrictions on cannabis sales just as the number of clubs in Spain has proliferated from some 40 in 2010 to more than 700 today, say smokers' groups. The Catalan capital is home to more than half of these clubs.
From swanky clubs that span three floors to others with a small room and a few plastic chairs, the clubs take advantage of a provision in Spain's drug laws that allow marijuana to be grown and consumed for private use.
The clause has turned Spain – and especially Barcelona – into what Spanish media call the "Holland of the South". But unlike Amsterdam's coffee shops, which are open to the public, Spain's clubs are for members only...