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Spain: Catalan Water Polo Player Quits Twitter After Harassment

Roser Tarragó, one of the nine Catalan players of the Spain women's water polo team that won the gold medal at the 2013 FINA World Aquatics Championships, closed her Twitter account (@rutarrago) on August 5, 2013 after being bullied for showing a Catalan separatist flag on her Twitter profile.

On Sunday, after winning the gold medal with the Spanish team in Barcelona, Tarragó received the corresponding congratulations. But soon some websites, such as eleconomista.es [es], noticed she was showing a Catalan separatist flag made with typographical characters ||*|| on her Twitter handle and a picture wearing the Catalan team suit instead of the Spanish one. She then became the target of a barrage of disparaging comments through the social network.

The region of Catalonia has long had a movement for independence from Spain, but in recent years it has seen a surge of support. Netizens supported Tarragó with hashtags #totssomrosertarrago (we all are Roser Tarragó) and #totsambrosertarrago (everybody with Roser Tarragó).

Among the comments written below the article [es], some called her names, such as “son of the b****”, “stupid”, “scum” or “mercenary”. Other comments, like one signed by a reader identified as “Spanish” which was marked by other readers with 186 negative votes, claim that she shouldn't have been admitted into the Spanish team because she feels Catalan:

Lo que no entiendo es porque antes de selecionarlas por ser buenos o buenas en su deporte , antes no se les pregunta por su condicion como español o española, cualquier español sentimos los triunfos de los nuestros se se sienten españoles, sino prefiero que no jueguen aunque no ganemos nada.
El orgullo no es solo la victoria sino las personas que nos representen al margen del puesto que ocupen.
Yo no selecionaria a ningun catalan o vasco que antes no se identifique con la selección con la que juega en este caso españa.
Hay algunos que solo lo hacen por dinero.
Y esto me dirigo tambien al Real Madrid con el vasco que ha fichado.

I don't get why [the national teams] don't ask [the athletes] if they feel Spanish before selecting them for being good at certain sports, we the Spanish feel the victories of our teams if they feel Spanish, if not I prefer that they don't play even if we don't win anything at all.
Pride is not only victory, but those people who represent us, doesn't matter which position they achieve. I wouldn't select any Catalan or Basque person if they cannot identify with the team they play with, in this case, Spain.
Some of them only do that for money.
And I am also addressing Real Madrid for the Basque player that has been signed.

On Twitter, some users including some Catalan users insulted or criticized Tarragó for advocating for Catalan independence and playing with the Spanish team at the same time.

Isabel María (@Isabelbmisa) [es], a journalist at Diario de Sevilla, and José M. CM (@35metros) [es] tweeted:

I'm only saying that if Roser Tarragó is a separatist, what is she doing representing Spain?

RT so Roser Tarragó won't be playing again with the Spanish team with the separatist cloth pic.twitter.com/yeZEoSHZCp

On the other side, users like Manel (@srmanel) critized [ca] the athlete for playing with Spain:

Roser Tarragó must not be such a big separatist if she plays with the Spanish team, putting money and prestige ahead of her ideology, isn't it?

However, support messages have been published using the hashtags #totssomrosertarrago [ca] (we all are Roser Tarragó) and #totsambrosertarrago [ca] (everybody with Roser Tarragó). Supporting tweets and reasonable comments defending Tarragós’ rights to choose the best options for her professional career while freely expressing her identity and political opinions have flooded the net. Sara Díaz (@SaritaDiaz_93), editor on synchronized swimming at vavel.com.es, Ariadna Bassols [ca] (@aribassols), artistic gymnastics coach, and Cl.J.León (@tirant_el_blanc) [ca] tweeted as follows:

@SaritaDiaz_93 @RuTarrago comments like this one are worth reading, not those that insult. She quitted [Twitter] after being insulted

@AleixUrzay @RuTarrago As I was saying, I don't share her opinions, but do respect them. As far as they give it all for the Spanih team, I don't care if she feels Chinese

@aribassols Insults are out of place, but I find her attitude very reproachable

@delmoralo For me it'd be reproachable if she wouldn't be productive to the max. If she is, outside the swimmingpool she can think whatever she wants. My humble opinion

My support for @RuTarrago for the insults she's getting and respect for her if she wants to keep on playing with the Spanish team!!

Though the Madrid 2020 committee (@Madrid2010ES), which supports the Spanish capital's bid for the 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Games, uses an image of Tarragó for promotion purposes, nobody has stood up for the player.

Tarragó has never hidden her Catalan identity. In April, after playing with the Catalan team, which is not allowed to compete at the Olympic Games, she declared [ca] that “it was a very special game, I could finally defend my colours”.

This is not the only case of anti-Catalan attitudes in Spain against athletes. Another relevant case is that of Àlex Fàbregas, a Catalan Olympian who mentioned in July 2012 that he felt more Catalan than Spanish and only played for Spain because “he has no other option” (there is a Spanish law penalizing athletes who refuse to join the Olympic team). A storm of violent comments towards Fàbregas — including death threats — led the athlete to delete his Twitter account. Sympathetic users created the hashtag #TotsSomÀlexFàbregas  (We're all Àlex Fàbregas) [ca] in response.

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