Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ricky Rubio and the imposition of the Spanish flag

Once more, the Spanish media worries more about form than about content. The controversy around Ricky Rubio and the Catalan flag that appeared on his team's website, the Minnesota Timberwolves, shows again a deep inferiority complex. In this case, it had to do with the Wolves' website in Spanish, where they show a picture of their Spanish-speaking players (Rubio and puerto rican JJ Barea) right next to their flag. Shouldn't Spanish media have been satisfied just at having the site translated into Spanish? Shouldn't they value the fact that Ricky Rubio, a player they consider as one of their own, has practically become a permanent NBA player?

Ricky Rubio is a Catalan, and the fact that the Minnesota Timberwolves chose to display the Catalan flag as defining the player's affiliation makes one think that he goes around claiming his Catalan-ness openly. However, this clearly bothered some of the Spanish media, who see an attack in any symbolism belonging to a nation other than theirs. The digital editions of the Spanish nationalist newspapers Marca, El Mundo, El Confidencial and ABC were quick to arouse their readers all day long yesterday in order to impose the Spanish flag instead of the Catalan one. Well, they got away with murder this time, a fact that they obviously see as a great victory.

It would do us well to pause and think about the whole controversy. Once more, the Spanish public opinion has rebelled against an expression of someone being Catalan, even a small thing like this. The case of the Timberwolves's website and the flag could pass as a small incident, except that in the end it becomes a perfect mirror of what Spanish sports associations and government agencies do on a daily basis. Spain's media dare have an opinion about actions taken by a private organization across the Atlantic. They think they can tell anyone how to do things. This is exactly what we at Plataforma Pro Seleccions Esportives Catalanes have always experienced first-hand. We are witnesses of the treatment our sportspeople receive from the Spanish media and the Spanish government, and of the barriers put in place by Spain. We should never doubt that, were Ricky Rubio free to choose, he'd be one of the players in the Catalan National Basketball team.

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