Casualties of independence: Barcelona, Espanyol could be out of La Liga if Catalonia secedes

Lionel Messi, Hector Moreno and Cristhian Stuani on March 29, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.

Lionel Messi, Hector Moreno and Cristhian Stuani on March 29, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (2014 Getty Images)

On Nov. 9 of this year, the government of Catalonia plans to hold a non-binding referendum on becoming independent from Spain. 

If the province says adiós to Spain, the president of the top soccer league, Javier Tebas, told reporters that Barcelona, Espanyol and other teams in the region could kiss La Liga goodbye as well. It would cause a cataclysmic rift in a league traditionally dominated by its richest clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Tebas noted that only one non-Spanish territory is allowed under law to participate in the Spanish league or in other official competitions: the tiny, Pyrenees Mountains nation of Andorra.

The region's push for autonomy from Spain, a movement that has gained momentum over the last few years, became visible on the global stage during Scotland's recent independence vote that affirmed its spot in the United Kingdom.

Catalonia's plan to hold a referendum is overwhelmingly opposed by Spain's parliament, where the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has a large majority.

Rajoy's government has argued in court that only the national government can call for referendums on issues regarding sovereignty. Catalonia has 7.5 million people and is the economic engine for a country that has elsewhere fallen into severe economic times.

Barcelona FC is quite possibly the most famous professional soccer club in the world, boasting players of international renown such as Lionel Messi of Argentina, Brazil's Neymar as well as home-grown Spanish superstars like Andrés Iniesta.

It might be accurate to describe RCD Espanyol as Barcelona's poor cousin, except for the fact that it was originally the team of the city's nobility. Generally the club eschews getting high-priced foreigners, instead opting for an almost fully Spanish roster. Espanyol has never won the La Liga title. 

As for Andorra, its inclusion in the soccer league would suggest that there is a precedent for including clubs from an independent Catalonia.

''For such a modification to be given the go-ahead, we'd have to wait and see if the affected sector would agree to such a change,'' Tebas said, according to

Follow us on
Like us at