NAZIOGINTZA often emphasizes the importance of symbolic representations in shaping political and cultural sovereignty, as well as securing its permanence. Symbols are instrumental in bringing a people together, bolstering the psychological and affective links within a people or nation. Flags and anthems, a language—a language goes far beyond communication functions—ID or passports, or national teams in sports, play a major role as the expression and spur of the national identity of a people.
The World Football Championship now on confirms the relevance of having a national team in sports. Among us, where football stands for the main sport, the Basque Country does not exist in communication, for example. The World Football Championship reveals once again the denial of us, besides showing the existence of two antagonising nationalisms: the state on the one side, who owns the monopole of sports representation, and the stateless nations on the other, for this instance just about inexistent.
The world tournament also exposes the contradictions of imperialist nationalisms, which dismiss the others while not acknowledging one’s own. As one renowned writer once reminded us on a rather scatological note, “nationalisms are pretty much like farts: ours smell good but those of others annoy us”. Now that quote is indeed very relevant when applied to the Spanish and French “citizens of the world” so attached to “cosmopolitanism”, who despise and condemn Catalan and Basque “tribal nationalisms” but get instead so carried away and emotional with their national teams in World Football Championship. They do not hide their fatherland fever when it comes to stand up for their Spanish or French colours, brandishing ubiquitous Spanish flags, posting big size placards in towns and cities, “Viva España”, “todos con la Roja” (support to the red jersey colour), and similar slogans distributed through all the mass media… God thanks they are not nationalists! Imagine if they were…
The practice of competing by means of sport teams dates from Ancient Greece, and we would not criticize French and Spanish nationalism should they respect us, notwithstanding their aggressive nationalist and imperialist brand, as opposed to our defensive one. It all boils down to respecting the right we have of joining tournaments. Sadly, that does not happen. In the sports domain, Spanish authorities do not allow the existence of our own sport teams, reacting by labelling any such attempt as “nationalist fanaticism”. Right… they do own representative sport teams, all the same they do not consider themselves fanatics or nationalists, accordingly the refusal on us of the right they hold seems not to be a nationalist attitude.
Indeed these authorities keen on alienation are well aware that the symbolic value and political empowerment afforded by national sport teams is immense. They know well that winning the World or European Football Championship greatly bolsters the national sentiment of a people. They do know that in such a championship a triumph would amount to the creation of more ‘patriots’ than 30 years of nationalist propaganda. They are well aware, and take good care to prevent that.
Therefore, the group NAZIOGINTZA considers it vital the issue of the Basque sport teams. We know that in the face of vanishing state identity features in Europe—physical borders, currency, army, economic sovereignty—cultural traits and symbolic values become the main guarantees of state symbols and internal cohesion. In international tournaments, sport national teams arouse a people around a set of values that extend beyond sport values.
The west of the Basque Country holds a historic opportunity to take steps forward in that sphere, by means of the New Status subject to discussion now in the Basque Parliament with a seat in Vitoria-Gasteiz. The New Status should include the right to have a national team and the provision necessary to crystallize it, so that nation building receives the attention it requires. Will they seize the opportunity we now hold?