When insults were directed at Gavi, the 18-year-old Futbol Club Barcelona player, in the celebration in Madrid of the UEFA Nations League title, obtained by the Spanish team last Sunday in the Netherlands, it was unfortunately not the the first time that this has happened to a Catalan athlete and it won't be the last. There are all those times that this happened to Gerard Piqué in similar celebrations throughout his sports career. But Gavi's case is, for many reasons, different; born in the Seville province, he does not embody any of the traits symbolized by, in addition to Piqué, other sportsmen such as the Catalan coach Pep Guardiola or the former player Carles Puyol.
We have to ask ourselves what is behind this visceral hatred that has intensified in the Spanish capital towards everything that is Catalan, without any distinction and which occurs with surprising ease and jumps from politics to sport, even being used against those who, as in this case, have contribute to something like a continental title for a team that had not achieved it for more than a decade and that, in the end, on Sunday, has broken the curse. There are people who are responsible, even if they now bury their heads in the sand, for the fact that with absolute impunity, some of the crowd referred to Gavi as a "brat, dog, son of a bitch..." as well as making other insults against the club in which he plays.
The Galician writer Suso de Toro says that it is an "a por ellos" - literally, a "let's go get em" - a slogan used by Spanish police in Catalonia in 2017, recalling the spirit of the attacks suffered over the independence referendum. He is surely right, because his gaze from the distance is usually as surgical as it is accurate. Just this Tuesday we learned, because this is what CUP deputy Mireia Vehí explained, that the anti-capitalist party has hired private security so that its MPs can move around Madrid with their physical integrity assured. The leader of the Republican Left in the Spanish capital, Gabriel Rufián, reported on Monday that people had tried to attack him four times and that they had succeeded once.
There are too many cases to brush them off simply as anecdotal. They are not unavoidable, but rather, are the result of a dangerous attitude against everything Catalan and the clearest case is that of Gavi, who at just 18 years old has already managed to have gone viral as an athlete on whom all this hatred can be heaped for the simple fact of playing for Barça. The fans forget that he has been a fundamental part in the title they are celebrating. There is a very dangerous hatred of everything Catalan, encouraged by the right and nourished under the excuse of putting an end to terrorism, support for independence, for people who carry out coups. This crude and hateful language is fed and propagated by a few thousand votes or by a few share points. And that is very dangerous.