In a “bombshell” move, the Basque Group in the Spanish Parliament has introduced an amendment to the new Sports Law bill, which has been approved in committee, which will allow for different Basque sports teams to play on the international stage alongside other national teams.

We’re sure this agreement and amendment will ruffle some feathers, even though this is simply the practical realization of Point 11 in the inauguration agreement the PNV and PSOE signed in December 2019.  In it, both parties undertook to “open channels to promote the international representation of the Basque Country in the sports and cultural spheres.”

In the field of sports specifically, this agreement should end up with the acceptance that the Basque national teams are official and should participate in international tournaments.

This has finally come to fruition thanks to this amendment, introduced in Point 2 of Article 44 of the Sports Law bill, which was approved by the Committee today, which says:

“The autonomous community sports federations may participate directly in the international arena if the corresponding international federation contemplates their participation in the case of sports modalities or specialties with historical and social roots in their respective autonomous community or in the event that the autonomous federation had formed part of an international Federation before the constitution of the corresponding Spanish Federation.  In such cases, the participation of the autonomous community sports federation in official international competitions shall take place after agreement is reached with the High Sports Council.  Such an agreement will entail joint support for the integration of the regional federation into the International Federation.

Before anyone tells us anything, we do agree that this agreement does not cover all the expectations and hopes that many of us Basques had in this area, nor does it cover all the issues around sports that have a greater reach, such as soccer, basketball, and cycling.

But it is a huge step, and, as Confucius said, that’s how all journeys begin.  And it must be an important one, one in the right direction, if the comments being “gifted” to us by the defenders of “national unity” are to be believed.

This also means we’ll have to see what will be done by those who would try to prevent this, because, let’s be clear, this isn’t just about sports: it’s really about politics.

Nevertheless, it would seem that, right from the kickoff, two Basque teams will be able to play in international championships at the same level as other countries: Basque handball and surfing.

Both teams will be joining one that has successfully been competing since 2014, Sokatira.  This form of Basque rural sports has been competing internationally as the “Basque Country” for eight years.

By the way, we think you’ll agree that this could be what gets the snowball rolling, when we read “The autonomous community sports federations may participate directly in the international arena … in the case of sports modalities or specialties with historical and social roots in their respective autonomous community.”  Yes, it’s limited, but it’s a strong first step.

We don’t wish to compare events, but there is a touch of poetic justice in the fact that this took place on October 25, because exactly 183 years ago, the Law to Confirm and Modify the Basque Fueros was passed (October 25, 1839) by the Spanish government, marking the beginning of the destruction, by force, of the institutional, political, and legal framework the southern Basque territories had had at the hand of the powers of the newly created “Spanish nation.”

So, from now on, more and more Basque athletes will be able to compete under the flag of the Basques, the ikurriña, just like the athletes in our header photo, which is the 500 Women Basque women’s team, which won the gold medal at the Sokatira World Championships 2021.

 

 


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