Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola has incited a political rift with roots that go all the way back to the Spanish Civil War by commenting in his post-match Champions League press conference that Catalunya "is its own country with its own language".
The comments, as reported by Madrid sports daily Marca, were issued shortly after Barcelona dispatched with Dynamo Kiev to take top spot in their Champions League group. The blast came in response to a question by Ukrainian journalists asking why the Barca coach chose to answer certain questions in Catalan so that only Catalunyan journalists could understand the responses, since UEFA does not employ a Catalan translator.
"We are a country with our own language and when we leave its borders, those of us that speak it, use it," responded the Blaugrana coach in Spanish, drawing the applause of Catalan journalists.
Autonomy of the provinces - Catalunya, the Basque region and Galicia amongst others - is a highly contentious issue in Spanish politics, with topics ranging from the primary language taught in schools, to the distribution of resources from the central government remaining points of some debate among lawmakers.
Cyrus C. Malek, Goal.com