From football baron to independence fighter

He used to be the president of the world’s best football club. Now he is poised to build the world’s best country. Joan Laporta dreams of ascending the throne of Catalonia’s prime minister. And after that: “We immediately declare independence. It will happen democratically, following the spirit of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence”, he affirms in an interview in Barcelona. Radical separatist ideas became more popular in the region since the Spanish constitutional court in 2010 ruled that a new autonomy law increasing self-governance was partly illegal. FC Barcelona is celebrated as the flagship of Catalan nationalism. That is why Laporta provokes controversy. While talking about “liberation of Catalonia”, he gets accused of using the beloved club for his own political aspirations. Rather than Kennedy of Catalonia, he is seen as the region’s own Silvio Berlusconi. Ahead of Catalonia's parliamentary elections we followed Laporta during the Catalan national day celebrations and asked him what kind of a club would FC Barcelona be in an independent Catalonia, playing only against Lilliputian teams.
Published in Helsingin Sanomat in 2010.

photos by stefano buonamici