Catalan independence could kill El Clasico, Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, better know as El Clasico, is one of the most fierce rivalries in the world of sports and also the most viewed football match each year. These two teams being the most valuable football clubs in the world are the life support to the fragile Spain economy. Their rivalry transcends football boundaries and becomes a political issue. With Catalan elections coming up, slogans for Catalan independence have gone up and only time will tell whether the eternal rivalry will become a thing of the past.

Come September 27th, people in Catalonia may very well be voting for a historical change. If successful, Catalonia may break up from Spain to form a new independent nation. This will have political, economical as well as sporting ramifications.

Javier Tebas, La Liga president tweeted recently that if Spain does indeed break up so will La Liga, Barcelona, Espanyol and all other Catalan clubs will be barred from participating in Spanish competitions due to the constitutional rules in place.

Famous Catalans like Pep Guardiola and Gerard Pique have given strong backing to the independence movement and Guardiola even suggesting he would have liked to play for the Catalan national team if it had been in place during his prime.

Catalonia is one of Europe's most economically developed region and provides up to 1/5th of Spain's economy. As such, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy cannot afford to let Catalonia become independent.

In the midst of all this, FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has chosen to remain neutral. And rightly so. Football clubs shouldn't be used as a pawn in a chess game. Sports and politics are separate entities and should remain so.

Camp Nou is the largest stadium in all of Europe and generates millions each year in revenue for La Liga. It is an iconic ground and Spain cannot afford to lose its premier club and stadium.

In the 2010 Fifa World Cup all the goals scored by Spain were by a Barcelona player. Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol were the stars of the golden era of Spanish football. With the Catalans gone, Spain will lose a part of history and some of the most technically gifted players. This will affect both the parties in the long run.

Now coming to Barca's participation in UEFA Champions League even if Barca managed to play in Ligue 1, UEFA rules obligate the teams participating in the Champions League to be listed under their own country's federation which will not be possible if Barca joined the French League, and if a Catalan league was founded, the new born Catalan Football Federation will need at least 6 years to join UEFA which means that if Catalonia got its long awaited independence, Barca will not be seen in the Champions League or the Europa League before 2022.

With the highest fan following in the world, Barcelona commands tremendous influence. Any political move will influence the future of the club. Football fans can't afford to let go of the El Clásico and European football. It's time that all the parties came forward and sorted the matter out. 

Until then, Cules can only wait by keeping their fingers crossed.

By Abhishek Das, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter here.