a scandal in spain

Self- Portrait –  Luis Paret y Alcázar -1746-1799

Court painter, Paret y Alcázar was exiled to Puerto Rico in 1775 by King Charles III of Spain, for backing the Princes’ scandalous life. During his exile in Puerto Rico, Paret y Alcázar taught José Campeche, one America’s best rococo painters. In 1776 he paints this self-portrait dressed in Puerto Rican peasant clothing, complaining of his diminished condition and requesting forgiveness. Paret is forgiven and returns to Spain in 1778.

 Collection Puerto Rico Museum of Art

Bribery, Corruption, Oh My.

“Rafa, what do you want?” I hissed as soon as I hit ‘answer’ on my phone. I hadn’t meant for my tone to come out in such a negative way but I couldn’t quite help it. Not with all of these cameras and strangers whizzing around me, my co-workers trying to sport unfazed facial expressions but they were failing just as much as I was.

The FIFA offices were buzzing as they had never been before. You might think, oh Women’s World Cup. So many other competitions and qualifiers going on, it’s just the media wanting to get a glimpse into the offices of those helping with all of these events.

No.

Scandal.

Scandal was much more tantalizing and intriguing than talking about the opening to the Women’s World Cup, even with all of the drama that already surrounded it. You had bribery, corruption and a dozen other words that spelled fines, jail time and firing and that was much more entertaining than anyone kicking around a ball.

Because everyone was waiting for this moment. For the big ship that was FIFA to wreck in a fiery manner that created beautiful images of victorious fireworks for everyone to enjoy because let’s face it everyone hated FIFA.

Specifically Sep Blatter, my boss. And though he was ladders and levels above me in the FIFA headquarters hierarchy, he was still my boss. My boss whose most cherished possession was about to be kicked on its ass.

I had enough of a hard time trying to maneuver through parking with so many camera men and news station reporters set up wherever they could find space and now I was listening to the fast clacking of my heels as they met the marble floors. I didn’t bother using the elevator to get to my office, instead opting to take the steps and nearly run to the safety of my office.

I had nearly forgotten Rafinha was on the phone. “What’s going on? Are you okay?”

What a stupid question. I knew Rafa wasn’t clueless to what was going on here in Switzerland. It was all over the news and him being a footballer, I was sure he was notified in some way either by teammates, agents or managers. It was all that anyone could talk about and unfortunately I was here to sit in the middle of the firestorm. “Do you think I’m okay?”

“Could you relax for a second?” It was him that was hissing this time and I closed my eyes, immediately regretting my attitude. “I’m sorry, okay? It’s just…a lot is going on right now.” I closed the door behind me to my office and leaned against it for support.

“I’m fucked, Rafa.”

“No you’re not.”

“I am! They’re going to get rid of everyone. There’s no way they’re not and I’m probably going to be the first to go. I’m so low on the totem pole they wouldn’t even care about getting rid of me. They’d just find some young girl on the streets to replace me and do my job just as well.”

“You’re amazing at what you do,” he tried to reason in that soothing tone that usually did calm me down but not so much today. I was dealing with way more than missing keys or a bowl of cereal with no milk to accompany it.

“Am I? If I’m so amazing at my job, would I be dating you?”

Again I felt that soft internal pang of regret and it only intensified as my boyfriend sat silent on the other end of the line. I winced with my eyes shut again. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re absolutely right. We shouldn’t be.”

And the truth of the matter was that we shouldn’t have. I was a FIFA employee and though it wasn’t etched out into bold print and a contract I signed with my blood, the unspoken rule was there…

No dating the athletes.

Or managers if Pep Guardiola was up your alley.

But still, I had managed to cross that boundary, break that unspoken rule and now I felt as if I was standing at the edge of a pit ready to be thrown in for sacrifice because God forbid someone do some digging into the personal lives of FIFA employees and find all of my airline tickets to Barcelona, Spain. That would only be another scandal for my boss to deal with.

Public Affairs. That was the department I worked in.

If that wasn’t the worst fucking division to be in right now right after legal affairs I wasn’t sure who else could sit second atop of the table.

“This is my livelihood, Rafa. My job. I came to Zürich just for this and if I lose this opportunity…”

“You can come here,” he quickly suggested but I immediately responded with a silent shake of my head. “You could work for the club!”

“You’re being unrealistic. I surely wouldn’t get hired working in sport after all of this goes down. They’re probably blacklisting my name right now. I have to go.”

“Okay. I love you?” It came out as more of a question than a statement and I could tell it was not from a place of questioning his love for me but questioning if this was the right moment to say it to me. My emotions were already out of whack and the normal salutation he gave me didn’t seem so serene and normal as it usually did.

“Yeah.”

I guess that was a good enough answer to his question because he didn’t combat anything or force me into repeating it back in that jovial tone I usually did. Rafinha instead decided just to hang up the phone.

I dropped the device to my desk and looked out the window, seeing the many white flashes of cameras going off as they took every picture imaginable of the front of our building. My mind couldn’t help but wander to the thought of them possibly taking photos of me instead.

The next few weeks felt like hell. They were hell. Every day I dreaded walking into my office, spending more and more time waiting in my car as I watched the busy bees float around me. The media attention had died down in the sense they didn’t all parade around the headquarters just waiting for one of us to slip and say something out of order, as if we weren’t well-trained to handle media pressure. There would be the occasional visits but they were all met with ‘no comment’ and a subsequent press release to address what the latest news was of the day.

Today’s news was me.

And yes, granted I wasn’t splashed on the front of the ESPN FC site or some other major network of information, I felt like I was. My eyes burned from being so dry after having cried all that I could and though I could mask those red eyes behind my prescription eye glasses, my parents could tell something was off.

My mother had insisted on coming to visit for dinner knowing all that had been going on with work, or at least what she was told through media sources because she didn’t dare ask me about it. Not like I would really know much anyway. She had cooked her infamous apple pie for dessert but all I had done was poke at the crust while her and my father ate away, cautiously sneaking glances at their suddenly quiet daughter.

“Are you okay, sweet pea?” My father asked.

I don’t know if it was because of that soft tone he would use with me like when I was younger and bothered by something but whatever it was, it got me to speak up now. “I got fired today.” It was a blunt admission, sugarcoated by nothing but blurted out as if I had just revealed I went grocery shopping today or something miniscule.

A firing wasn’t miniscule.

It was major.

So I wasn’t surprised at all when my mother gasped and her hand raised to her chest before breaking out into full-on Mom Defense mode. “They can’t do that! They can’t just fire you for their wrongdoing. You weren’t the one accepting bribes.”

I immediately held up my hand to stop her protests. Not only were they useless but they were wrong. “That’s not why I was fired.”

I should have been more careful. I should have known that from then on I was going to be carefully watched like a felon who was treading on thin ice. I never actively hid my relationship with Rafinha. I mean, aside from making sure we didn’t make any appearances in public together, it wasn’t as if anyone knew who I was. I wasn’t that important in the sports world but my inability to hide was what now had me caught up.

I didn’t know if I had left evidence behind like my phone atop of my desk when Rafinha called or a photo or some other memento but my boss had confronted me about my relationship and left with nowhere to hide, I confessed.

Maybe she didn’t even know. Her confrontation didn’t have a direct topic but more of a probe like a mother does when she suspects her child is up to something but can’t quite figure out what. I cracked this time.

“I’m going to grab some air.”

Neither of them protested when I removed the napkin from my lap to the table, eased my chair back and got up to head out of my front door. I didn’t think it had really hit me that I was free from my title with FIFA. If it had I would have been freaking out by now on what my future held because I couldn’t afford to be without a job for long.

I sat with my thoughts for a moment, listening and watching as cars drove down my street until I felt a vibration in my pocket. I grabbed my phone and saw his name.

I had only text him the news, ignoring his subsequent calls and pleas that I return his messages so as he went the FaceTime route this time, I decided to answer.

“Yes, Rafinha?” My tone was defeated but he didn’t dare to bother me on it. He had a slight frown on his face as he watched me. That was the funny thing about Rafa, or at least a thought that made me slightly laugh internally as I thought about it. Most people spent much of their FaceTime calls staring at themselves instead of the person on the other side, me included, but Rafa always seemed to pay more attention to me.

“How’s dinner with the parents?”

“I just told them.” I looked down to my exposed ankle, a small bug crawling against my skin but I didn’t bother to bat it away. I don’t know if it was out of sheer laziness or sadness but if it managed to get a taste of my blood, congrats to it.

His frown grew more prominent. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize.”

“Well hey, maybe this means you’ll have time to come visit me soon? I could always use your company here…”

“I don’t know. I should probably save my money and start looking for a new job. Who knows? Maybe I’ll move to Turin or something. I’ve always liked it there.”

“A bit drastic don’t you think?”

I began playing with the bracelet on my arm before I responded, “Maybe. Maybe not.”

“Y/N…” Rafa sighed before continuing. “Look just come here. I’ll help you with the job search. I could probably even be a reference for you when you apply to work at one of those dessert shops.”

I knew he meant it as a joke, his smile beginning to break apart as I let my lips form into a toothless grin. “You? As a reference for me? You don’t even have any solid qualifications or jobs.”

“Well I do know Lionel Messi. That’s gotta be a resume all on its own right?”

gif credit to barca-fleki66

Violence Mars Catalonia Independence Vote, Hundreds Hurt

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BARCELONA, Spain — Catalonia’s defiant bid to hold a referendum on independence from Spain degenerated into ugly scenes of mayhem on Sunday, with more than 800 people injured as riot police attacked peaceful protesters and unarmed civilians gathered to cast their ballots in a vote the government had banned as unconstitutional. Thirty-three officers were also injured.

Hundreds of police armed with truncheons and rubber bullets were sent in from other regions to confiscate ballots and stop the voting, and amateur video showed some officers dragging people out of polling stations by the hair, throwing some down stairs, kicking them and pushing them to the ground. Anguished, frightened screams could be heard.

“What the police are doing is simply savage,” said Jordi Turull, spokesman for the Catalan regional government, which backs independence. “It’s an international scandal.” He said Spain has become “the shame of Europe” with its iron-fist tactics.

Police were acting on a judge’s orders to stop the referendum, which the Spanish government had declared illegal — and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said going forward with the vote only served to sow divisions.

In a televised address after the majority of polls closed Sunday, he thanked the Spanish police, saying they had acted with “firmness and serenity” — comments sure to anger Catalonians.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said the violence, while “unfortunate” and “unpleasant” was “proportionate.”

“If people insist in disregarding the law and doing something that has been consistently declared illegal and unconstitutional, law enforcement officers need to uphold the law,” Dastis told The Associated Press in an interview.

Speaking in Barcelona after polls closed, Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont said Catalonia had “won the right to become an independent state.”

“Today the Spanish state wrote another shameful page in its history with Catalonia,” he said, adding that he would appeal to the European Union to look into alleged human rights violations during Sunday’s vote.

By day’s end, Catalan’s health services said 844 people had been treated in hospitals for injuries, including two in serious condition and another person who was being treated for an eye injury that fit the profile of having been hit by a rubber bullet.

No one knows precisely what will happen if Catalan officials use the vote —chaotic as it was — as a basis for declaring the northeastern region independent, a provocative move that would threaten Spain with the possible loss of one of its most prosperous regions, including the popular coastal city of Barcelona, the regional capital. It was also unclear how many of the region’s 5.3 million eligible voters were able to cast ballots, how their votes would be counted and how many votes had been confiscated by police.

Catalans favoring a break with Spain have long wanted more than the limited autonomy they now enjoy, arguing that they contribute far more than they receive from the central government, which controls key areas including taxes and infrastructure. The police aggression on Sunday was likely to fuel the passion for independence.

Officials planning the police operation may have failed to take into account the ubiquitous use of smart phones with video recorders as violent images were broadcast across the world.

At the Pau Claris School in Barcelona, amateur footage filmed by one voter showed police roughing up unarmed people standing in their way. Amateur video from other locations showed similar tactics, with people seen being hit, kicked and thrown around by police, including elderly people with their dogs, young girls and regular citizens of all stripes. Many tried to shield themselves from being smacked on the head.

There were also some signs of provocation by activists. In footage released by the Spanish Interior Ministry, some protesters were seen throwing objects and metal barriers at riot police.

Elisa Arouca, who was waiting to vote outside the Estel school in central Barcelona, reacted with anger when national police agents yanked her and other prospective voters out of the way, then smashed the door open and confiscated the ballot boxes.

She had been planning to vote in favor of keeping Catalonia part of Spain, but decided instead to join the march for independence. She moved to another polling station to try and cast her vote in favor of breaking away.

“I was always against independence, but what the Spanish state is doing is making me change my mind,” she said. “The national police and civil guard are treating us like criminals.”

A member of the Israeli parliament, sent in as an observer of the vote, said she was shocked by the use of rubber bullets by Spanish police against crowds of unarmed voters.

“We did expect a normal democratic process,” said Ksenia Svetlova, part of a delegation of 30 people invited by Catalan officials to observe the voting process. “We knew that a lot of police were here but still, you know, there should be a respect for the will of the people to vote regardless of what you think of the referendum.”

Tensions were running so high that Barcelona played its soccer game against Las Palmas without fans after the team announced the match would be played behind closed doors shortly before kickoff, with thousands of soccer fans already outside the stadium. Barcelona wanted to postpone the game but said the Spanish league refused the request.

Manuel Condeminas, a 48-year-old IT manager who tried to block police from driving away with ballot boxes on Sunday, said police had kicked him and others before using their batons and firing the rubber bullets.

Elsewhere, civil guard officers, wearing helmets and carrying shields, used a hammer to break the glass of the front door and a lock cutter to break into the Sant Julia de Ramis sports center near the city of Girona that was being used as a polling station. At least one woman was injured outside the building, wheeled away on a stretcher by paramedics.

Clashes broke out less than an hour after polls opened, and not long before Puigdemont, the Catelonia regional president, was expected to turn up to vote at the sports center. Polling station workers reacted peacefully and broke out into songs and chants challenging the officers’ presence.

Puigdemont was forced to vote in Cornella de Terri, near the northern city of Girona, his spokesman said.

Police had sealed off many voting centers in the hours before the vote to prevent their use. Others were filled with activists determined to hold their ground.

Spanish riot police forcefully removed a few hundred would-be voters from a polling station at a school in Barcelona. The scene was repeated at other locations, although voting was peaceful in some spots.

Daniel Riano, 54, was inside when the police pushed aside a large group gathered outside a polling station at the Estel School in downtown Barcelona and busted in the door.

“We were waiting inside to vote when the National Police used force to enter, they used a mace to break in the glass door and they took everything,” he said. “One policeman put me in a headlock to drag me out while I was holding my wife’s hand! It was incredible. They didn’t give any warning.”

By ARITZ PARRA and JOSEPH WILSON - Oct 1 5:20 PM EDT

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Associated Press writer Alex Oller contributed to this report from Barcelona, and Gregory Katz and Frank Griffiths contributed from London.

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Bellarke AU/FF:  Amor Fati by historicbellamyblake

“Betrothed from birth and raised in a foreign country, Clarke Griffin seizes the chance to control her life for the first time after inheriting her father’s title and position at court. Despite feeling affection for her fiance, the Crown Prince, she is not thrilled about their upcoming nuptials. Unwilling to sacrifice her newly found agency, even for a crown, Clarke tries to change her fate.

Bellamy Blake worked hard all his life to be a knight so that he could provide for his sister. When he discovers and reveals an assassination plot, he’s awarded an earldom by the King. Knowing that he made enemies through his actions, Octavia convinces him to befriend Duchess Clarke Griffin, future Queen of England, for protection.

Clarke and Bellamy find it hard to get along at first, their strong personalities and differences in opinions causing them to clash at every turn. Amidst late night banquets, court scandals, and a brewing war between England and Spain, the two cannot deny the spark of attraction between them despite everything that stands in the way.”

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SCANDAL; European Tour Video Message

In this second European tour video message, SCANDAL talks about their tour, new album and greets each countries’ fans.

☆ And actually, I was the random fan who recommended Tomomi / SCANDAL to have llao llao (it’s a froyo place that originated from Spain, but then became huge in S’pore), when they stopover for their tour😁😁!! Extra excited for their live now!

Video upload w/ thanks to B7KLAN @ YT / Facebook.