Connect with us


Pep Guardiola and the long tradition of mixing football with politics

As manager of Manchester City, this season Pep Guardiola has won the Premier League and the Carabao ..



As manager of Manchester City, this season Pep Guardiola has won the Premier League and the Carabao Cup. By wearing a yellow ribbon on his chest, he has also been charged and fined £20,000 by the English Football Association (FA) for “wearing a political message”.

By Scott Rawlinson, University of East Anglia

As manager of Manchester City, this season Pep Guardiola has won the Premier League and the Carabao Cup. By wearing a yellow ribbon on his chest, he has also been charged and fined £20,000 by the English Football Association (FA) for “wearing a political message”.

Guardiola insists the ribbon does not represent support for Catalan independence, but instead shows solidarity with pro-independence politicians who have been imprisoned. Either way, the political undertones are clear, and led to the chief of the FA, Martin Glenn, stating: “We dont want political symbols in football.”

But whether or not we want politics to be a part of football, clubs are, to a great extent, made up of their sense of history and place. This fact is demonstrated on the terraces, on the pitch and beyond, where football, politics, and identity all come together.

Football as an expression of political identification and resistance has plenty of examples. FC Barcelonas slogan “more than a Club” is well-known, as is its association with Catalan culture and society. The club was also a popular symbol of resistance during the dictatorships of Primo de Rivera and Francisco Franco, and has a famous rivalry with Real Madrid, the club seen by many as the footballing representation of the centralist Spanish state.

Perhaps less famous is the territorial development of Athletic de Bilbao in the Basque Country. Like Catalonia, the Basque Country is an historical “autonomous community” within the Spanish state, with a strong sense of self.

Founded in 1901, Athletic de Bilbao has, since around 1912, only signed local Basque players (albeit with varying degrees of strictness and interpretation). Given the timing of the clubs foundation and growing feelings of Basque nationalism, some have speculated that the origins of this tradition may be tied to the Basque nationalist ideology of Sabino Arana, who founded the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) in 1895. Many of the clubs bosses were affiliated to the PNV, and Jose Antonio Aguirre, the first president of the Basque Country, once played for Athletic de Bilbao.

Photo: AFP

The Franco dictatorship – which imposed restrictions on the Basque language – did little to weaken Athletic de Bilbaos insistence on recruiting local players. And the clubs crest, which includes images of a San Anton church and bridge, located in the province of Bizkaia, is yet another symbolic expression of its geographical and political roots.

In the UK, too, when football clubs play, their histories also play. This could not be truer than in the case of the two Glasgow clubs, Rangers and Celtic. When these sides meet, football, politics and religion are all inside the stadium.

Old Firm holds firm

Celtic FC was set up in Glasgows poverty stricken East End, where many Irish Catholics had settled in a bid to escape the famine in their home country. The club has its origins in the displacement of people, with the club acting as a point of cohesion.

Meanwhile, many Protestants began to gravitate towards Rangers, and over time the club came to be associated with Scottish Protestantism and Unionism. When the two teams meet on the pitch, the interaction of football and identity is in plain sight, through traditional songs and historic intense rivalry.

A more recent connection between football and politics is clear in the Serbian clubs Partizan Belgrade and Red Star Belgrade, which were described by journalist Nebojsa Markovic as “socialist institutions”.

In 1944, after the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia (with help from the Soviet Army) took control of Yugoslavia, many of the countrys pre-war clubs ceased to exist. This created space for new clubs to emerge which would reflect the developing political reality.

Red Star came first and took the communist inspired five-pointed red star as its symbol. Partizan was later formed by members of the Yugoslav army. Both clubs survived the break up of Yugoslavia.

With the two clubs located in Belgrade, efforts were later made to turn them into symbols of Serbian national identification. However, they were unable to shake off their Yugoslav heritage and links to the communist state.

As Markovic observed, Partizans club crest maintains its image of the six flames which represent the six nations and six republics that were part of communist Yugoslavia. Red Star clearly maintain their red star. A complex political situation forged the evolving identities of the two clubs, including a global context that pitched communism against democracy and the Soviet state against the West. At a more local level, the clubs came to embody a distinctly Serbian identity sitting uneasily beside a wider Yugoslavian one.

Serbia, Scotland and Spain are just three examples of the close relationship between politics and football which exists across the world. Perhaps thats why Guardiola continues to wear his yellow ribbon. His focus is on his clubs quest for trophies. Because in football, like politics, winning is everything.

Scott Rawlinson, PhD Candidate, Political Science, University of East Anglia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Continue Reading


Spain’s far-right Vox seek to make gains in 28 May local and regional elections



Spain’s third largest political group in the national parliament, the far-right Vox party, is looking to make gains in the local and regional elections due to be held across the country on 28 May.

Since it entered a regional government for the first time in Castilla y León last year, Vox has attacked the unions and pushed polarising positions on social issues, including abortion and transgender rights.

It is now poised to spread its influence beyond the sparsely populated region near Madrid, with the party hoping to make gains in the elections at the end of May.

Surveys suggest the main opposition, the right-wing People’s Party (PP), could need the support of Vox to govern in half of the 12 regions casting ballots, just as it did in Castilla y León last year.

Polls also indicate the PP is on track to win a year-end general election but would need Vox to form a working majority and oust socialist (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his coalition government from office.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal [pictured at a recent rally in Chinchón, near Madrid] has called the PP-VOX coalition government in office in Castilla y León since March 2022 a ‘showroom’ and ‘an example of the alternative Spain needs’.

It is Spain’s first government to include a far-right party since the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

In Castilla y León, Vox has slashed funding to unions, which the party has vowed to ‘put in their place’ if it comes to power nationally. Trade union UGT was forced to lay off 40% of its staff in Castilla y León last month and scale back programmes to promote workspace safety. Spain’s other main union, the CCOO, is reportedly preparing to follow suit.

Vox has also angered LGBTQ groups by refusing to allow the regional parliament to be lit up in the colours of the rainbow, the symbol of the gay rights movement, for Pride festivities as in past years when the PP governed alone.

In addition, the regional vice-president, Vox’s Juan García-Gallardo, has railed against a law passed by Spain’s leftist central government that extends transgender rights.

The 32-year-old lawyer warned earlier this month that women would now be ‘forced to share locker rooms with hairy men at municipal swimming pools’.

Vox’s most contested initiative was a proposal that doctors offer women seeking an abortion a 4D ultrasound scan to try to discourage them from going ahead with the procedure.

The idea was swiftly condemned by Spain’s leftist central government, and Castilla y León’s PP president Alfonso Fernández Mañueco stopped the measure from going ahead.

The issue highlighted the hazards for the PP of joining forces with Vox, which was launched in 2013 and is now the third-largest party in the national parliament.


Read from:

Continue Reading


Spain – Gas falls below 90 euros per MWh for the first time in almost two months



The price of TTF natural gas for delivery next month has fallen below 90 euros on Friday for the first time in almost two months and closes a week marked by the decision of the European Commission to cap gas with a drop of 29, 36%.
According to data from the Bloomberg platform, gas closed this Friday at 83 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh), 8.9% less than the day before and the first time it has lost 90 euros since last October 31.
After months of negotiations, the EU agreed on Monday to set a cap of 180 euros on contracts linked to the Amsterdam TTF index with a price difference of at least 35 euros above the average price of liquefied natural gas in the markets.

EU countries agree on a cap of 180 euros for gas with the support of Germany
In a report this week, the Swiss investment bank Julius Baer indicated that the chances of the mechanism being activated are low and pointed out that the chosen formula was not very effective in avoiding the multiplier effect that gas has on the price of electricity. However, he reiterated what was said in other previous reports: “Energy supply risks are minimal and prices should continue to decline in the future” due to the availability of raw materials from Asia to offset cuts from Russia.

Gas tends to fall during the hot months due to lower demand, but this summer it has reached historic heights as European countries were buying to face the winter with their tanks full and reduce their dependence on Russia. The price fell in September and October due to lower demand once the warehouses were full due to the high temperatures at the beginning of autumn, but in November it picked up again and 66% more expensive.

This article was originally published on Público

Continue Reading


Spain – The retirement age rises to 66 years



Ordinary retirement at age 65 ends for those who have contributed less than 38 years. In fact, 2023 will be the last year in which this can be done since it will be necessary to have a contribution career of a minimum of 37 years and nine months to be able to retire with the reference age of the last century, since it was established in 1919, and once the year is over another quarter will be added to be able to do it without cuts in the benefit.
This requirement means that to access ordinary retirement at age 65 without loss of pay, it will be necessary to have been working, at least, since April 1985 for those who exercise this right in December 2023 and since May 1984 for those who intend to do it in January.

More than ten million contributory pensioners
In the last decade, and coinciding with the implementation of the delay program, the real retirement age of Spanish workers has increased by one year, from 63.9 in 2012 to 64.8 in mid-2022, according to data from the Financial Economic Report of the Social Security included in the General State Budget.

Contributory pensions will have a historic rise of 8.5% as of January as a result of the disproportionate increase in the CPI, while for non-contributory pensions the revision will be 15%. This review will place the average pension of the contributory system at 1,187 euros per pay, while the retirement pension will rise to 1,365, the disability pension will reach 1,122 and the widow’s pension will reach 847, as a result of applying the 8.5% increase.

The Social Security forecasts point to next year, and while waiting to find out the real effects that the rise may have on the payroll due to its “call effect” to bring forward retirement given the opportunity to alleviate with it the penalties for anticipating it, the number of pensioners will consolidate above ten million, with almost two-thirds of them (6.37) as retirees, to which will be added 2.3 million widows and almost one affected by work disabilities.

This record number of pensioners will place the cost of pensions at 209,165 million euros, the bulk of which (196,399, 93.8%) will be used to pay benefits, including non-contributory ones. Health care has a budget of 1,890 million euros and social services another 3,791, while the remaining 7,144 are dedicated to operating expenses.

On the revenue side, the largest contribution comes from the contribution chapter, which will amount to 152,075 million and will leave the gap with contributory benefits at 36,765.
The imbalance will be covered by a contribution of 38,904 from the Government, to which is added a chapter of others worth 18,116 and which includes everything from sanctions to asset disposals, among other concepts.

Read more of this from the source Público

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2020 ,