FC Barcelona weren't just the best football club in Spain last season; they were the best football club in the world. Between their La Liga title, their Copa del Rey victory, and their UEFA Champions League triumph, Barca were on top of the world. Now, though, with the Catalonia independence debate heating up, FC Barcelona's future is uncertain. Barca and fellow La Liga competitors RCD Espanyol are Catalan football clubs. If Catalonia breaks off from Spain and becomes an independent state, then Barcelona and Espanyol could potentially not be eligible to compete in the Spanish La Liga. Such a drastic change would undoubtedly have far-reaching impacts on both teams, as well as upon the landscape of Spanish and European soccer as we know it.

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What Catalan Independence Would Mean for FC Barcelona

A recent Catalan referendum showed that more than 80 percent of voters in the region want Catalonia to be its own independent country. About 10 percent of voters said that Catalonia should be a state, but shouldn't be completely independent of Spain. You can bet that at least a few Barca fans were among that 10 percent.

But Catalan independence is something of a dilemma for FC Barcelona. On one hand, Catalan independence would give Barca's fans new rights, freedom, and happiness. On the other hand, independence would also likely cut Barcelona's ties with the league that allows them to remain one of the biggest football clubs in the world. Most pressingly, in other words, breaking from La Liga is what Catalan independence would mean for FC Barcelona.

Barca's Ties with the Spanish La Liga

Losing Barcelona would be a blow to the La Liga, where Barca and Real Madrid maintain one of the most consistently competitive and exciting rivalries in soccer. Every year, you can expect these two soccer clubs to give one another real competition in pursuit of the Spanish championship title.

Both clubs have played in all 84 La Liga seasons; Real Madrid have won 32 titles along the way while Barcelona have won 27. Aside from Atletico Madrid, no other La Liga club can even touch what Barca and Real Madrid have built over the years. Even Atletico aren't particularly close: they've only won 10 titles, and their 2014 win was the first since 1996.

Bottom line, Barcelona are a huge, huge part of what the La Liga is and has always been. Currently, the UEFA ranks the Spanish La Liga as the best soccer club competition in the world. Both Real Madrid and Barca are ranked in the UEFA's current world ranking of the best clubs. If Barcelona left La Liga, the effects would be devastating for the entire league.

A Catalan Soccer League?

There are a fair number of football clubs in Catalonia, enough that the state could create a new league if they do get independence. But Barcelona and Espanyol are the only two top-flight Spanish teams from Catalonia, and no teams in the region could possibly hope to compete with Barcelona.

Without good competition or a high-profile league, the club's ticket sales and sponsorship deals would likely decline dramatically. And what about Barca's biggest players, internationals like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar? Well, there's very little chance any of them would stick around to play in what would ultimately equate to a third or fourth-tier football league in Spain, England, Germany, or Italy.

Regardless of football, though, there's no doubt that the Catalan independence movement is picking p steam. On Sunday, September 27th, elections gave Catalonia's separatist and nationalist parties a slight majority (72 seats) in the region's 135-seat parliament. The vote, overall, showed that the region's people are still split about half and half between those who support becoming an independent state and those who don't. But with an absolute majority in the parliament, Catalan nationalists are certainly one step closer to their goal of independence.

Barca fans: what do you think? Do you wear your Barcelona jersey 2015 2016 as a symbol of Catalan pride? Or are you worried that independence for Catalonia could mean the end of FC Barcelona as a global soccer superpower? You can share your thoughts with Soccer Box via our social media pages, on Facebook, Instagram and Google +, as well as other popular networking sites.