Madrid, Oct 28 (IANS) Spanish Secretary of State for Sport, Miguel Cardinal, said on Wednesday that the idea of FC Barcelona playing in the French football league rather than the Spanish La Liga was “absurd”. Cardinal was responding to comments made by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who was born in Barcelona, that in the case of hypothetical Catalan independence, the French Ligue 1 would not close its doors to Barcelona, reports Xinhua. “I don’t think Valls said that phrase,” said Cardinal, adding that,”what governments think is irrelevant at this moment. We have to respect the autonomy of sport and of competitions and the organisations behind sport are not the organisms of the government, but of their respective federations.” Cardinal said the idea of Barcelona playing in France was “absurd”, because “the championships are organised to discover which is the best team in their territory. In Portugal they want to know who the best Portuguese side is, in Italy, they want to know the best Italian side and in France, the best French club,” he explained, perhaps forgetting the economic attraction of having a team such as Barcelona compete in the French league.

He also doubted whether Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who has tried to avoid becoming directly involved in the debate over Catalan independence, would want the club to play in a different league. “A few weeks ago Bartomeu said the club wanted to continue playing in the Spanish League, as do all of the other Catalan clubs and I am certain that French clubs only want sides from France in their competition. It’s something that depends on the nature of the sport, not on governments,” explained Cardinal.

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