So eat your hat all you illuminated Catalan nationalists who thought Lionel Messi would be your standard bearer all the way to independence and beyond.
FC Barcelona had tried its best to keep details on his thoughts on the matter from public scrutiny-but the truth is now out. As reported in the Spanish and Catalan media the Argentine’s latest contract with the club has a specific clause stating that player will be free to leave the club in the event of Catalan independence having Barca excluded from any major European leageu, including La Liga.
In truth the news is not such a great surrise to those of us who have followed Messi’s political sympathies over the year.The fact is that politics registers a near zero in Messi’s mindset, that he is almost exclusively dedicated to football, when not playing Playstation, eating Argentine steaks and pasties, and taking some time off with family and good mates.
When it comes to Catalan politics, Messi has been notable for his lack of any anecdotal,let alone passionate involvement. Not for him Johan Cruyff’s example of insisting that his first born son be called by a Catalan name, or Pep Guardiola’s emblemic support for the release of Cataln political prisoners, or Pique’s emotional defence of the Catalan right to vote for self-determination .
Within the Messi family, one of the main concerns has been that the younger generation should not be compelled to speak the Catalan language. It was the reason why Messi’s mother chose not to to live in Barcelona but took herself and her daughter back to Rosario in Argentina.
But the underlining consideration must be that FC Barcelona would become a declining asset were Catalonia to break away from Spain, and possibly Europe as a result.
Football has few global supershows that can match the El Classico encounters between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Messi, along wth his main rival Cristiano Ronaldo, is one of its superstars. Hence the anticipatory clause. Let the show go on.