It’s Barça with a soft ‘c’

2011-04-16 11:10

This morning I called a friend and comrade, Press Ombudsman Joe Tholoe, to ask him if there was a forum where the public could engage with the media on matters of concern to the broader populace.

Since football is more than a game, I proceeded to tell him that I was asked to call and complain to him on behalf of FC Barcelona’s ­official supporters club in South ­Africa, Mzansi Penya ­Barcelonista.

The complaints, in the main, ­centre on the fact that our media continues to be trapped in old ­colonial loyalties when it comes to football, covering the English ­Premier League but granting scant coverage to the Spanish league – ­despite their players ­being the World Cup champs.

BBVA Spanish Football League (popularly known as La Liga), cannot be ignored when it comes to watching and reading about the Uefa Champions League, and this has thrown up problems of how some teams are reported on.

And this brings me to how journalists report on FC Barcelona, ­popularly known as “Barça”.

For some strange reason, sports editors persist in calling the team Barca, with the hard “k” sound, ­pronounced as “Barka”.

After trying to get another view from an obviously pro-Arsenal journalist Carlos Amato, I suggested to an editor that his paper considers using the ­Catalan “ç”.

Needless to say, the ­response was not published, as was the case of many others who wrote in. One of those “unpublished ­writers” informed me that Amato ­replied to him bilaterally, thereby missing a great opportunity to ­engage the public on matters of ­mutual concern.

Since then, I have scanned a range of our newspapers and every one of them have fuelled public ­ignorance on this issue.

But as I was beginning to despair, one weekend over coffee I spotted it. For the first time ever in a South ­African newspaper: the cedilla.

My excitement, however, was ­limited when I went to the paper’s website only to find a repeat of the old error suggesting that what I saw was ­either an apparition or simply an ­aberration. This is what I found: “Barca lose key defenders.”

This could be remedied if all ­editors simply got with the programme: we are living in a global village, and the use of a cedilla is not undermining the English language.

If, however, it is too much of a ­cultural bridge to cross, I suggest that our editors think of using an “s” as many other newspapers are ­actually doing.
Olé, an Argentinian sports paper, wrote: “En Barsa, Messi tiene a ­jugadores de su nivel.”

If editors think we are wrong, go and test the word with your readers, then return and tell me if we are ­barca-ing up the wrong tree.

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