The Catalan government on Thursday apologized for a new tourism campaign linking Catalonia with the soccer club FC Barcelona. A new promotional video to attract more visitors features the soccer club and ends with the slogan “If you feel FC Barcelona, you feel Catalunya,” a fact that has caused unrest at other clubs in the region.
“To sell to the world that they have to ‘feel Catalunya’ through a single team is to belittle our land and to ridicule Catalan sport,” said the CEO Ramon Robert of RCD Espanyol, FC Barcelona’s cross-city rival, and also in Spain’s top soccer division.
The video, which lasts a minute and a half, shows images of FC Barcelona's stadium Camp Nou, fans of Barça, as the club is also known, and club memorabilia. It then moves on to show elements of Catalan culture such as castellets (human towers), architecture by Antoni Gaudí, who designed Barcelona's iconic and as yet unfinished Sagrada Famila church, and vineyards.
This single-track thinking, with all the wealth of teams we have in this country...What a shame
Jordi Villacampa, chairman Joventut Badalona
“We apologize if anyone has felt affected by the news of the partnership between Barça and the Catalan tourism department,” said the regional government in a tweet.
Sources at the tourism department stressed that this is not the government’s official tourism promotion video, but rather a campaign produced by FC Barcelona, which partners with regional authorities to help draw more visitors to the northeastern region – already the top destination for foreign tourists throughout the record-breaking 2016.
The origin of the video was a competition that the soccer club organized for its fan base. The winners were treated to a few days in Catalonia, and parts of their stay were filmed to make the video.
The tourism department said that the government’s official campaign runs under the slogan “Catalunya és casa teva” (Catalonia is your home), and notes that it has previously partnered with world-famous Catalans like the Roca brothers, of the Michelin-starred restaurant Celler de Can Roca, on promotional videos.
Government officials said that if RCD Espanyol, which has complained about the video, wants to partner with them as well, they are open to the possibility.
In the meantime, RCD Espanyol has launched a humorous Twitter campaign with the hashtag #WefeelSamoa. Team captain Javi López has tweeted that he feels increasingly in love with Samoa, while player David López has uploaded a Samoan flag and a picture of himself at the Espanyol training center.
Jordi Villacampa, chairman of Badalona’s Joventut team, also had angry words about the campaign.
“This single-track thinking, with all the wealth of teams we have in this country...What a shame,” he said.
English version by Susana Urra.